Photos from 250+ Feet up COTA’s Petrolsaurus Rex

Standing 251 feet above Turns 16, 17, & 18, the COTA observation tower provides a bird’s eye view of just about every tun on the circuit, if you can stomach its subtle sway in the wind and clear-glass floor at the precipice. Officially called by COTA as the “Observation Tower” – it really needs a better name for casual conversation. We’ve heard COTA Cobra used a few times with some lovely alliteration, but the structure has always struck us as less snake-like, and more like a big dinosaur — we’re going to use the name “Petrolsaurus Rex” until I hear something better, or COTA sends me a cease and desist order. I climbed to the top of Petrolsaurus Rex (read: took the elevator) during the MotoGP Warm-Up session, and snapped a few photos in the process. Enjoy!

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 MotoGP.com 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.

Thursday Report from Laguna Seca: Rossi Considers WSBK, Stoner Displeased w/ Bridgestone, Hayden Has a Miscommunication

07/23/2010 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Thursday Report from Laguna Seca: Rossi Considers WSBK, Stoner Displeased w/ Bridgestone, Hayden Has a Miscommunication Rossi Press Conference 560x359

Sleep is a luxury in the MotoGP paddock. Sunburned, tired, and still with only a rudimentary understanding of Italian, we’re slogging our way through the paddock talking to teams and riders. We’ll try to pick out individual stories during the day…but no promises. Instead you’ll find a daily digest coming your way each morning from the previous day, which will touch on the day’s major events.

Head over to MotoMatters.com if you want more in-depth coverage (or click on the links in the digest), as David Emmett will be making sense of our sloppy handwriting and noisy audio clips, and turning it into MotoGP gold. Thursday’s digest after the jump.

Thursday saw MotoGP riders arriving at Laguna Seca for the Red Bull US GP. Also in arrival was the sun, which peeked it’s head out of the coastal clouds of Monterey, and washed the fabled Californian track with a spotlight of perfectly warm sunshine that seemingly ended the second you stepped foot off the park grounds. With the paddock settling in for the race weekend, we were able to catch up with a few MotoGP superstars to get their impressions for the weekend, and pry more top-secret contract negotiation details out of them.

First on our list was the man who is sitting in first place in the Championship points: Jorge Lorenzo. The last time Lorenzo was in Laguna Seca, he and the track had a disagreement during qualifying…and the track won. Hoping to improve on his performance here in California, and expand his overall points gap to second place holder Dani Pedrosa, Lorenzo remains optimistic about his chances this weekend.

Likening Seca to the other “short” track in MotoGP: Sachsenring, Lorenzo expects the field to remain closely packed on Sunday, which should provide for some good racing action. However don’t expect Lorenzo to risk it all during the race. The Spaniard is racing with his head, and has his eyes on a Championship. Like in Germany, prudence will be the course of action, and you can imagine Lorenzo’s pit board will be keeping close tabs on where Dani Pedrosa is in the field.

If we had to use a Dickensian metaphor to describe Fiat-Yamaha right now, it would be “A Tale of Two Cities”, as Valentino Rossi’s strategy for the rest of the MotoGP season is quite different from his teammate’s. Coming back to MotoGP on the mend, Rossi sees himself out of the Championship hunt, barring some sort of event by both Pedrosa and Lorenzo.

Being very forward-thinking, Rossi has declared his intentions to ride in World Superbike before finishing his riding career. After testing twice on WSBK machinery, Rossi proved that he was more than capable of besting some of the top riders in that series, and the Italian described the Superbikes as a very different breed of motorcycle, which posed a new challenge and required new skils.

Unlikely to be ten-time World Champion at the end of the this season, and having already all-but confirmed a spot in the Ducati garage next season, Rossi finds himself not racing for points, and not racing for contracts…and this makes him a very dangerous man. Able to take the risks that Lorenzo can’t, Rossi will surely be taking chances on the track that he normally would not make, and forget about his leg holding him back from letting everything hang-out (figuratively, as well as litterally) to get a race victory.

With the multitude of left-hand turns at Laguna Seca, Rossi’s broken right leg is less of a factor. However the concern seems for naught, as Rossi says he feels no pain in the leg, and it’s not holding him back from riding. It’s hard to label someone 100% when they have broken bones, but Rossi is as close to that statement as one can get. Being a strong rider at Laguna Seca, you can expect to see Rossi in the hunt for a podium.

Getting a first-hand account of Rossi’s abilities injured, Casey Stoner traded laps with the Italian at Sachsenring, and could very well see himself doing the same this weekend at Laguna Seca. Stoner was a grab-bag of emotions leading into Laguna Seca, as the Australian has already been confirmed as factory rider for HRC next season. Eager to try something new, Casey looked forward to making a team switch next year, and seemed to find his remaining time a Ducati as being very surreal.

Playing to his critics, Stoner was however not very pleased with the support tire supplier Bridgestone has brought to the series this year. Unhappy with the performance of Bridgestone’s asymmetrical tire, Stoner complained of how the tires heated up on the track. The Ducati rider also was not pleased with the compounds offered by Bridgestone, and was mystified as to why Bridgestone’s “soft compound” could make race distances under hot conditions (typically a “soft” tire would go off with 10 or so laps remaining in extremely hot conditions).

Stoner’s sentiment on Bridgestone is shared by some riders in the paddock, but at the end of the day Stoner says it’s time for him to win a race. So far this season it’s been Stoner’s teammate Nicky Hayden who has been carry the load at Ducati. Despite recent dust-up in the Italian media (a poorly translated story pegged Hayden with disparaging remarks towards Stoner), things between the two factory Ducati riders seem to be very positive and collegial.

Hayden is of course riding in front of a home crowd, and has won at Laguna Seca before. Strong in the beginning of the season, Hayden’s performance leading up to Laguna Seca hasn’t been up to his liking. With Hayden’s brother Roger Lee in the MotoGP paddock for the weekend, taking the place for the injured Randy de Puniet, the brothers were sporting matching mohawk hair styles. While the mohawk wasn’t a good luck charm for Valentino Rossi at his home track, Hayden is hoping the opposite will be true here in California.

Weighing heavily on the minds of all the riders is the issue of engine usage. Laguna Seca marks the halfway point in the season for MotoGP, and engine strategy is starting to play a larger role. With teams looking for an edge anywhere they can find it, a fresh engine in a field of used ones can make the difference and put a rider on the podium.

Ben Spies has taken full advantage of this strategy, taking a 3rd and 4th place results at Silverstone and Assen respectively. With Yamaha stepping up to help it’s two American riders in Monster Tech3 Yamaha, it will be interesting to note what motors are used in their allocation this weekend in Laguna Seca. With Team Texas sporting a special livery for the race, Americans will be hoping that Edwards breaks his streak of crashing when having one-off paint schemes on his bike.

MotoGP riders will take to their bikes on Friday, and attempt to back up their pre-event goals, aspirations, and boasts with cold hard lap times. Stay tuned.

As seen on MotoMatters.com

Comment:

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