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.

Trackside Tuesday: The Face of a Champion

10/09/2012 @ 2:26 pm, by Scott Jones13 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: The Face of a Champion Max Biaggi Miller Motorsports Park WSBK Scott Jones

Even before I met Max Biaggi in 2011, I had the sense that here was someone who takes himself and his racing pretty seriously. From the immaculately trimmed facial hair, to his manner in the pit box, to his long career as a motorcycle racer, if there is anything he takes lightly, it is certainly not racing.

Some riders are approachable, quick to smile, who naturally put others at ease even on race weekends. Biaggi is not among this group. But I didn’t appreciate just how intense he is when he’s at work until, as one of my contributions to benefit Riders for Health, I decided to ask him to sign a print I was donating at last year’s Miller WSBK round.

I had brought a matted print of Biaggi from 2010 with me, and as I approached the track on Saturday morning I considered that it would likely fetch a higher price, and thus a greater donation to Riders for Health, if it bore Max’s signature. So I set about getting that done with no idea how easy or difficult it might be.

First I approached the Aprilia media officer, a pleasant fellow who worked with me, half in Italian and half in English, to come up with a plan to approach his star rider. He suggested we talk to someone in the pit box, someone who knew Max better than he did in his recently acquired role with the team.

We descended into the Aprilia garage and found someone whose exact role I never understood, but who also liked the idea of doing something for Riders for Health. He did not, however, care to be the one to bring it directly to Max. The three of us considered the situation and appealed to one of the senior mechanics, who gave us a sympathetic look and said in gestures instead of words that he wanted no part of the business.

We stood to the side of the box, waiting for inspiration, and I wondered if the plan were doomed. Max spoke to mechanics as if discussing matters of life and death. Team members approached him respectfully, presented their concerns for his comment, and left him alone. In some garages the guys joke and there is music in the business of racing motorbikes. In Max’s garage, it’s more like a war room, its business deadly serious.

Someone new appeared and my colleagues brightened. It was a friend of Max’s, someone we could approach for counsel. A sotto voce discussion in Italian followed with wise nods and tentative smiles, then a group decision to proceed. Max would probably say ok. By now I was the least important player in the drama, merely the fellow holding the thing that wanted signing.

Biaggi was about to grant a TV interview, and we, safety in numbers, waited patiently until the camera crew left. Finally we could wait no longer, and we mentally pushed the friend out into the unknown. He approached Max and leaned in to explain the situation. Behind large sunglasses Max was inscrutable as he listened. What would happen? It seemed to take much longer to explain than it should have, but perhaps time was passing slowly because of the suspense.

Eventually Max uttered a few words, then gave a short nod and the friend, relived, smiled and returned to us. He explained that Max was willing, as long as I promised this was for Riders and not going to appear on eBay. I promised and was invited over, where  I produced my work for his inspection as I held out a new Sharpie. Oddly, the moment changed dramatically, because as I was standing next to Max Biaggi, he was suddenly different from the character we’d observed and been intimidated by.

Saying Max was ‘friendly’ would be not quite right, but face to face he was no longer the remote, uber-professional I’ve watched for so many years. He seemed to relax, signed his name, smiled and then disappeared, but not before putting on the stone face again as he left the box.

I thanked my new pals, delivered the signed print to the Riders booth in the paddock and was left to consider the experience. I don’t think I could’ve asked for it to have gone any better, and I appreciated Max’s willingness to trust me and to do something to benefit Riders for Health, even though it had not been arranged ahead of time. The adventure left me more sympathetic toward Max Biaggi than I might previously have been, because since then he’s been something more than the deadly serious professional racer.

But certainly he remains that at his core. After winning his sixth world title, Biaggi said: “The 2012 season was tight to say the least: we started off well, winning at Phillip Island after completely revamping my team, but we also had some difficult moments. We definitely worked for the title and maybe that’s why it’s an even sweeter victory.”

Based on my personal experience with how he operates at work, I expect we can only guess at what winning a championship truly means to someone who takes himself and what he does so very seriously.

Scott Jones is a professional photographer who covers MotoGP and WSBK for racing industry clients as well as racing websites and publications in the U.S. and Europe. His online archive is available at Photo.GP, and you can find him on his blogTwitter, & Facebook.

All images posted, shared, or sent for editorial use or review are registered for full copyright protection at the Library of Congress.

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

Comment:

  1. Jake F. says:

    Well done, Scott. Thanks for this little glimpse into Biaggi’s world and for supporting Riders for Health.

  2. MikeD says:

    LOL. I can relate to the guy…somehow.

    People say i look and should conduct myself like a total A-Hole but then find out im ok-ish, if i do say so myself. ROTFLMAO.

    I think he should ligthen up and take out that brum stick stuck up his Ying-Yang. No need for the ugly face/attitude/treatment towards others.

  3. Gutterslob says:

    Biaggi’s definitely different nowadays. Wouldn’t exactly say he’s mellowed, but definitely a bit more easy-going.

    In the old days whenever I watched a TV interview, he’d be looking into the lens, like he was in a POV porn movie or something. Nowadays he at least bothers to face the reporter/journalist, and even cracks a joke or two.

  4. Peter Geran says:

    Scott..

    He signed a photo for me at Phillip Isand in 1998..

    I had taken the photo at Suzuka in 1997.. He was riding a Marlboro Yamaha #3 in those days.

    He signed it #1

  5. robin says:

    he’s surprisingly friendly with laverty, with lorenzo because they both have a thing for rossi lolol

  6. David says:

    Gotta love Max, super serious all the time.

  7. TexusTim says:

    Remeber the classic…..” I slapa yo face offa” ?

  8. dc4go says:

    Knowing Max off the track he’s one of the nicest guys your going to meet but he does take his job very serious… He actually visited one of my close friends at the hospitol after his accident and emails him to this date to check on his progress… Congrats Max on the #1 plate 2012 was a real treat, awesome bike and congrats to Sykes amazing year for him and team green!!

  9. Biaggi was one of those riders that I wanted — strongly — to dislike. Except that when I heard him talking about his races in the post-race interviews, I wound up identifying with him very strongly. Anybody that passionate about riding/racing is a-okay in my books. He’s always been a cerebral, intelligent and go-for-it racer, in all the right ratios for a given race situation. A+.

  10. gsp75 says:

    If anyone has a oppertunity to see him at the Dainese store in Ca. during the Miller round you’ll see how easy going and friendly he really is . After the Q&A he must’ve signed every and anything u gave him !!!
    He signrd a helmet, boot ,poster and magazine all with the Biggest of smiles .
    A true CHAMP !!!

  11. JacksonH says:

    I actually bid on the print earlier this year, and was unfortunate not to win it, as I was told, mine was the highest bid. Sadly one of the Riders for Health staff accepted a lower bid, without knowing of my bid, and some lucky guy benefited and now owns something very scarce.
    Hopefully another signed Max Biaggi will come my way in the future to add to my collection of MotoGP prints.
    I have always thought that Max is a brilliant smooth rider, and was delighted to see him win the 2012 WSB championship.

  12. pooch says:

    Hand it to Max. There’s nothing wrong with taking your job seriously and at Max’s age, I’m sure he’s had a lifetime of requests for portions of his time when he’s trying to concentrate on the job. Like Stoner, Biaggi does not court publicity and desire the public worship like the Rossi’s and Lorenzo’s of bike racing, Max is just there to race his bike as fast as he can and keep distractions at a minimum. It’s obvious.

    After Biaggi’s win, seeing his very long and extended embrace with his wife, talking in her ear for a long time, it was very nice to see. Also like Stoner, a lot of people haven’t warmed to this champion over the years because he isn’t the happy clown Rossi, or the desperate imitator Lorenzo. In fact he’s even downright ornery at times, the slapping Melandri incident, the punchup with Rossi way back when. But let’s face it, Melandri if anyone deserves a slap, and Rossi deserves a lifetime of slaps for the multitude of mind games he plays on and off the track with riders. You will never see Max jumping around and wearing an idiot grin stricking his mug up against the camera lens like #46, doing elaborate post-race pantomimes like #99 or #46, Biaggi, like Stoner, is pure racer. And I like that breed of racer better.

  13. tonestar says:

    really happy for max that he won the title this year, one for the old boys (like me!)

    but ” brilliant smooth” ? that’s my man checa! no, watching biaggi is like trying to predict the path of a hand grenade. don’t remember what race, but i do recall seeing him pass 2 guys this year on the outside of a sharp lefthander- on the back wheel !!