MV Agusta F3 800 Ago Now Officially Debuts

We already announced the bike last November, and brought you a bevy of hi-res images of the special edition machine. Although now that we think of it, MV Agusta never released anything on this Giacomo Agostini tribute motorcycle — better late than never, right? Back at the EICMA show launch, where the MV Agusta F3 800 Ago was first shown to the public (and Agostini himself), the Varese brand promised us two additional motorcycle launches in early 2014. MV Agsuta made good on half that promise with the Dragster 800 model, hopefully this Ago special edition isn’t the other half of that statement, and MV Agusta still has something waiting in the wings. That being said, the Tricolore & Gold paint scheme is gorgeous, and looks even better in person.

Isle of Man TT Gets TV Deal for Australia & USA

Want to watch the Isle of Man TT from the comfort of your non-British TV, but haven’t been able to in the past? A new TV from the Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development will do just that. Inking a new TV contract with North One TV, the Isle of Man TT will be televised in the American, Australian, and of course British markets, making it easier than ever to watch the iconic road race. With a five-year contract with the Velocity Channel in the US, the American cable channel will show seven one-hour race shows. Each segment will air within 24hrs of each race, and be tailored for the American market.

Castiglioni Denies Fiat Buyout of MV Agusta Is in the Works

After reporting 22% growth in Q1 2014, Giovanni Castiglioni had some closing words about the rumors that Fiat could acquire MV Agusta — a popular rumor that has been swirling around in the press the last two months. Denying outright that MV Agusta had, or was in, talks with the Fiat-Chrysler group about an acquisition (some reports linked even MV Agusta to being bought by Fiat-owned Ferrari), Castiglioni said the Italian company solely was focused on building growth, and building motorcycles. “Moreover, I’d like to take this opportunity to deny rumours circulated by the media over the last few days concerning supposed negotiations vis-à-vis the sale of a share of MV Agusta to the Fiat-Chrysler Group,” said Giovanni Castiglioni, the President and CEO of MV Agusta.

A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Preview: The Spanish GP at the Circuito de Jerez

04/26/2012 @ 10:39 am, by David EmmettComments Off

Preview: The Spanish GP at the Circuito de Jerez Circuito de Jerez Scott Jones

After the opening of hostilities in the black of the desert night in Qatar, the 2012 MotoGP season gets underway for real – or at least, what feels like for real – this weekend in Jerez. The paddock finally full, not of Nissen huts, but of sleek and shiny hospitality units and race trucks; the stands full of fans, and spread all around the track, not huddled together at one end of Qatar’s single grandstand; the bikes displaying their natural glory in daylight, not the fluorescent glare of Qatar’s admittedly spectacular floodlit fish bowl.

The track is familiar to all. We were here just a month ago, for the final IRTA test ahead of the season, and everyone has had a chance to find a decent setup for the track. Fastest man during the test was also the fastest man at Qatar, though arm pump prevented Casey Stoner from capitalizing on that speed, and his title rival Jorge Lorenzo taking advantage to secure a well-deserved victory.

Stoner vs. Lorenzo looks set to the story of the season, and Jerez is shaping up to be a classic confrontation. Casey Stoner has been working on his arm pump – secretive as ever, he has been using what appears to be a mixture of diet and preparation to prevent a recurrence, with gloves now well and truly worn in – and given his earlier speed at the track, should theoretically be the strong favorite for the win. The only real problem with the Honda has so far this year has been chatter, and the lower grip levels at Jerez failed to provoke such chatter during the test. But Jerez is also Stoner’s bogey track, one of only two circuits he has never won at: last year, Stoner started the race from pole, after dominating much of practice, yet he still failed to finish the race, victim of yet another Ducati front-end washout, though this time, the Ducati was in the hands of Valentino Rossi rather than Stoner himself.

It would be a brave gambler to lay money against Jorge Lorenzo taking victory: the factory Yamaha man has won here the last two years in a row. Lorenzo is happier and more comfortable than he was last year, the Yamaha being a much stronger package than it was in 2011. The added torque from the 1000cc Yamaha M1 engine has cured the major weakness the bike had in its 800cc guise, and Lorenzo now feels he is at least adequately armed. Lorenzo loves Jerez, and with Estoril coming up next week, another track he is outstanding at, will start the weekend in buoyant mood. Some of this weekend’s interest will come in the battle of mental strength, in seeing how heavily the Jerez monkey weighs on Stoner’s back, and how much pressure an ebullient Lorenzo can add.

Stoner’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa will also be in the mix, the diminutive Spaniard putting in an uncharacteristically but heart-warmingly feisty showing at Qatar, looking positively combative in tangling with Lorenzo and Stoner. Pedrosa has a bone to pick with Lorenzo at Jerez, having lost the 2010 race to his fellow countryman after his Honda developed a software glitch that saw him lose power on the final laps. If that does not happen again – and you can say many things about Honda, but not that they are willing to countenance making the same error twice – then expect Pedrosa to take it to his two main rivals.

Pedrosa is not the only rider with a debt outstanding at Jerez. Ben Spies has a lot to make up for – through no fault of his own – after a dismal showing at Qatar, riding a bike plagued by massive and monstrous chatters. Spies’ first ride on the Yamaha at Jerez was also pretty dismal, pulling in with a mystery front tire issue. 2011 was better, at least until he pushed too hard and crashed with three laps to go. Spies’ job is on the line in 2012, and his audition starts in earnest on Sunday.

The enigma of 2012 is surely Valentino Rossi – though to award him that title just 1 race is to be getting ahead of ourselves a little. After Rossi’s premeditated and laser-guided attack on Ducati on Italian TV after the race at Qatar, there are signs that the Italian is trying to turn a corner mentally. The most pregnant sign of an impending change is an interview staged by Italian TV, where Rossi interviewed his father Graziano about the son, Valentino. Graziano’s words spoke of courage, grit and determination, and the need for Rossi to dig in and make the relationship with Ducati work. Though likely unscripted, Valentino must have known the answers Graziano would give before he even asked the question. And perhaps even offered a few prompts.

But Graziano is right: it is time for Rossi to dig in his heels and start to show his class. The Italian has resembled a little too closely the caricature that so many Rossi fans have of his arch rival Casey Stoner, of a man who only ever complains of what is wrong, and never points the finger at himself. Stoner’s caricature was unjust: the Australian is more than happy to hold his hand up over his own mistakes, much as he did over the arm pump he suffered at Qatar. Rossi would do well to emulate Stoner in this respect, as well as trying to copy the Australian’s performance on the bike.

Jerez will also see some intriguing battles further back. The Spanish track will also play host to round 2 of what is shaping up to be the battle of the year, between Monster Tech 3 teammates Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. The pair are beautifully matched: close in speed, with Crutchlow returning to his old bruiser form on the bigger liter capacity Yamaha M1. Dovizioso, on the other hand, retains is beautifully clinical style, but is still adapting the things he learned in a lifetime on a Honda to suit the rather different needs of a Yamaha.

The Honda satellite match up is equally promising: Stefan Bradl has been hugely impressive on the LCR Honda, the young German using his intelligence to match his raw talent and speed. He learns fast, but more importantly, he learns thoroughly, and seems to take another step forward every time he gets on the bike. He is already pushing Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, especially after so much had been expected of the Spaniard. But like Dovizioso, Bautista must relearn the skills he gained on the Suzuki, and figure out the fastest way to ride the Honda.

The CRT bikes offer another mouthwatering match up. After a strong preseason, everyone expected Randy de Puniet to wipe the floor on the Aspar Aprilia ART machine, but at Qatar, it was Colin Edwards who put his NGM Mobile Suter BMW on top the CRT pile, outperforming the Frenchman with relative comfort. Edwards has earned his wages several times over for both Forward Racing and for Suter, cramming a year’s development into just a few months. Since the Texan joined the team, he has had three new chassis and a mass of electronics upgrades, but he has cut the deficit from nearly 6 seconds down to just a couple. De Puniet was fast from the outset; Edwards has been growing faster every time he gets on the bike; and at Jerez, they have their first chance of troubling the satellite machines. Karel Abraham on the Cardion AB Ducati is the first man with a target on his back, and he will have to ride hard to stay ahead of De Puniet and Edwards.

Elsewhere among the CRTs, much focus will be on the progress being made in the still infant class. Honorable mention so far goes to three surprising rookies: Michele Pirro has performed exceptionally well on an FTR Honda that has little more than a couple of hundred kilometers under its belt. Yonny Hernandez has comprehensively outperformed his teammate Ivan Silva, putting the FTR Kawasaki way above where it belongs. But most impressive of all has been Danilo Petrucci, the Italian giving away a massive power advantage to the other bikes, both CRT and prototype, which expressed itself in a 40 km/h top speed deficit at the end of Qatar’s monster straight. At a tighter track like Jerez, Petrucci is in with a shout, and should embarrass a few riders on much more developed machines.

Most intriguing of all is the prospect that, like last year, the rain might intervene on race day to shake the field up a little. The best forecast so far appears to promise dry weather throughout practice, with a serious amount of rain just in time for Sunday’s race. In the wet, many of the bets you might ordinarily make on MotoGP are no longer valid, and random chance will start to play a role. Logic dictates that we will see two Hondas and a Yamaha on the podium on Sunday, but rain places little stock in logic. Any number of things could happen if rains on Sunday, the only certainty is that we will be more than surprised at the results.

Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

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