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.

Valentino Rossi to Test New Aluminum Frame at Jerez

09/21/2011 @ 8:57 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi to Test New Aluminum Frame at Jerez Valentino Rossi Ducati Corse test 635x423

According to both GPone and MCN, Valentino Rossi and Ducati Corse will test a new aluminum frame at Jerez this week. Though the two MotoGP authorities differ on what sot of frame exactly will be used during the test (MCN says twin-spar, while GPone maintains an “open cradle” frame that leaves the motor still as a stressed object). Regardless of the style, the new chassis is reportedly made by FTR, and is another attempt by the Italian racing team to figure out how to solve the vague front-end feeling coming from the Ducati Desmosedici GP11/GP11.1/GP12.

Possibly similar to the chassis style used by Honda and Yamaha, this new frame design marks the fourth major chassis change this year for Ducati. Unable to compete against the top pack on the grid, Rossi has lately even struggled to keep up with his fellow Ducati riders come race day. While technically considered a test for the 2012 season and on the GP12 motorcycle, the results from the Jerez test (Ducati’s seventh test of an allowed eight) could easily find its way onto this season’s Desmosedici.

With Ducati frantically searching for a solution that will put the G.O.A.T. on the podium, this upcoming test at Jerez perhaps signals how lost Ducati has become on its search for solutions. Debuting a more flexible carbon chassis at Estoril early in the 2011 season, Ducati Corse soon abandoned the GP11 for the GP11.1, which was basically the GP12 with the motor modified for the 800cc rules. Unable to make headway on the GP11.1, Ducati recently modified its “frameless chassis”, using an aluminum headstock/airbox at Aragon, with again less than inspiring results.

The team now hopes that moving to a fully-traditional frame will shed some insight onto the problems plaguing the Desmosedici’s front-end. Whether or not the new aluminum frame will make it into racing this year is not clear at this time, but if Ducati is having Valentino Rossi test the setup this quickly after the Aragon GP, you can imagine something is afoot in the Italian camp.

Source: MCN & GPone; Photo: Ducati Corse

Comment:

  1. RJ says:

    Another day, another chassis… and so goes the Ducati/Rossi saga…

  2. Trent says:

    It’s looking more and more like the long L-twin engine is the issue.

  3. Cpt. Slow says:

    ^ugh, the D16′s engine is not of the two-cylinder variety…

  4. Jazzy says:

    Hate the game, not the G.O.A.T. Everyone keeps hating on Rossi because of the lack of immediate results with Ducati. Just wait and see next season when all the hard work pays off and he’s back on top. Then the haters will say he cheated by setting up the 2012 bike during the 2011 season. Whatever! Bottom line Rossi made Honda, Rossi made Yamaha and he will succeed with Ducati.

  5. Trent says:

    @ Cpt. Slow: ugh yes, I realize it’s an L-four. There was an extensive article published recently which speculated that the L configuration negatively impacts front end feel. Because of its length, either the front tire must be pushed forward, or the swingarm length reduced (and pivot point pushed back). The result I believe is less of the rider’s weight on the front tire.

  6. Minibull says:

    Argrgrgrg.

    If Ducati have come out and flat out said, “No, the issues are not caused by the L-4 engine at all” then I think it’s fair to say that the engine isnt the issue…

    Tyres, tyres, tyres.

    Tyres that work well with a beam frame…oh look, Ducati will be using a form of beam frame…

  7. LutherG says:

    Perhaps the L Ducati can only be ridden by a very light rider who sits very far over the tank. It’s no mystery to close observers that the rider weight is having a huge effect on tire wear, fuel consumption, and finishing position.
    I would hate if motogp riders look like the Jockeys at the horse track. Though, even they have weight minimums.

  8. Minibull says:

    Since when have the rider weights been affecting the tyre wear? I thought fuel usage and top speed were the main disadvantages for the taller riders. They then have the ability to manouver the bike around more and have a greater influence on it. Pretty sure this was talked about a few months back, with the riders not really caring…:P

    Stoner did well on the (Old) Ducati, and hes not on the smaller side.

  9. Beary says:

    The best Ducati frame for Rossi would be a frame he exits from. Can everyone now see how exceptional a rider Stoner was on the Ducati ? Rossi is quoted as saying ‘I am not going to ride it with my heart in my mouth’ and this is precisely how Stoner won on it.

    My heart goes out to the goat though. He is stuck in no mans land, not able to leave – betraying his Italian Heritage would irrevocably tarnish the legend – but staying with them also is doing the same.

    The Dream Team has become his worst nightmare, and he will finish his first season in 15 years without a single win. He deserves a lot better than that POC bike.

  10. hoyt says:

    @Trent – Checa, Bayliss, Haga, etc. had (or are having) major success with the L-twin. Checa has won WSB races this year several times by seconds on a variety of tracks. Former racer comments on how tight he can turn the Ducati while commenting the narrow-angle V4 Aprilia cannot turn as tightly.

    So how does adding 2 more cylinders point you to the engine being the culprit of Ducati’s GP struggles overwhelmingly more than the chassis being the culprit when there has been all of that success with a twin?

    The GP chassis design has never been used for this type of engine. Could it be that there isn’t enough continuity of feedback of the forces transmitted from the steering neck to the swingarm pivot?

    As successful as the Britten was, I’ve heard there was some differences in the front-end feedback. As you probably know, the V1000 Britten was a narrow 60-degree twin. (was that feel all attributable to the Hossack-style fork or did the frameless chassis also have something to do with it?)

  11. hoyt says:

    …with the “frameless” design, the aluminum or cf airbox structure stops at the engine block. That engine block has 4 pistons raging inside, causing the block metal to resonate in various ways depending on the stroke inside the engine.

    The traditional frame has metal portions that connect to the block but also has a fair amount of metal that is a direct link to the swingarm pivot from the steering neck.

    Is this difference enough to transmit a better feel to the skilled racer? or…another way – is the new design creating “static” feedback to the racer due to the structure picking up more engine resonating fluctuations?

    No matter what, the new streetbike they are working on seems to have not only the L-twin and this new frame structure but a higher price. Good luck

  12. nano says:

    The frame of Jerez is the first real chasis that ducati put on track in the entire season. They delay so much to make this change. This frame they are testing should have been the tested chasis from the first of 8 training days dorna give to teams, but their own stubbornness make this in the 7 day of testing. They waste so much time in a useless concept.
    The problem with ducati is that their resist too much to change their “exclusive” concept of frameless bike… But this is the racing world, not the “exclusive” world. You need the stuf that works, not the fancy and good looking ones to enjoy on a friends weekend ride.

  13. Minibull says:

    @nano: I hardly think its resisting change. Development just takes time, and there is no point rushing with important decisions. It could end up with an even bigger failure and wasted money.
    The stuff that works…in this highly restricted “prototype” series…on spec tyres…with 21L of fuel…

  14. armchair expert says:

    They’ll go nowhere and they’ll get nowhere because they are looking for the “quick-fix” instead of investing the TIME into existing versions. Nicky is as fast if not faster on some tracks because he’s been putting time in only the second version (and he was faster on the first version), Barbera is even faster because they have invested the TIME and MILES into the same bike.
    So VR will test another version, and naturally start out at the back,, then get impatient and blame the bike for being slow, then try another ,, instead of sticking with it for a while.

    If it were easy to create a better bike over the period of a few weekends Honda and Yamaha would have the next 3 years worth of bike already worked out.

  15. Dc4go says:

    “Flex!!” the small carbon airbor stress member doesn’t give the riders the feel or flex they need out of the bike to push.. And when they do push hey end up on the floor from the lack of tire grip.. No enough flex = not enough mechanical grip.. Have friends in the Ducati camp and word is they’re testing a FULL Aluminum frame for feedback only to fab. one from carbon fiber for the GP12!!