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.

MotoGP: Sacré Bleu During Racing at the French GP

05/15/2011 @ 9:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Sacré Bleu During Racing at the French GP Casey Stoner MotoGP French GP 635x421

To say that the French GP got off on the wrong foot might be the understatement of the season. Between the statements between riders about each other, and the Casey Stoner/Randy de Puniet punch incident, the pre-race antics were at a fever pitch in Le Mans. The off-track drama in MotoGP is clearly seeping into the on-track racing action, and accordingly the French GP was filled with several incidents that should give the pundits something to talk about for the coming three weeks before the Catalan GP.

Meanwhile qualifying showed that the Hondas ruled the roost, with the firm’s four factory supported bikes sitting in the top four spots on the starting grid. With Casey Stoner commencing from the pole position, Marco Simoncelli qualified just barely second to the Australian, while Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the front row.

Directly behind Stoner was Dani Pedrosa, who has had some tremendous starts from the second row in the past, and surely couldn’t be counted out of today’s race. Eyes were also on Randy de Puniet, who counted Le Mans as one of his least favorite circuits, despite it being in front of his home crowd.

Randy de Puniet’s Track Notes at the French GP

05/14/2011 @ 8:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Factory Hondas Make Like Napoleon Bonaparte – Divide & Conquer Qualifying at Le Mans

05/14/2011 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MotoGP: Factory Hondas Make Like Napoleon Bonaparte   Divide & Conquer Qualifying at Le Mans Casey Stoner Le Mans MotoGP qualifying 635x421

Le Mans proved to be a Honda-friendly track today, as all four true-blooded factory Honda machines took the four top spots on the grid for tomorrow’s French GP. With the Hondas bunched up at the front, the groupings didn’t stop there as the next four spots were occupied by the Yamaha contingency, with Jorge Lorenzo leading Crutchlow, Edwards, and Spies respectively.

Ninth and tenth on the grid belong to Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, while Randy de Puniet on the satellite Pramac Ducati will start 11th for his home GP. Both Hayden and Spies cited mistakes on their fast laps as being the cause for their poor qualifying, while Rossi’s squad was unable to capitalize on its softer-compound tire for an ultimate qualifying time.

Starting on pole will be Casey Stoner, as the Australian continues his superb form this season. Though the Repsol Honda rider has been the one to watch so far this season, he only beat out sophmore Marco Simoncelli by a margin of 0.059 seconds.

Simoncelli has seemingly found his stride this season, though his riding has prompted concerns in the MotoGP paddock, as many of the top riders went to the Safety Commission meeting to complain about the Italian’s riding. Rounding out the front row is Andrea Dovizioso, who bested teammate Dani Pedrosa by six-hundreths of a second. Full qualifying results after the jump.

Aprilia Tuono V4 Street by Paris-Nord Moto

04/27/2011 @ 7:06 am, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Aprilia Tuono V4 Street by Paris Nord Moto Aprilia Tuono V4 R Street 635x418

On paper the Aprilia Tuono V4 R is a monster, boasting the most horsepower in its class, and coming armed with a sophisticated electronics package to help hook-up the 162hp on the tarmac. While all the early ride reports are positive about the new true-blooded streetfighter, and we’re sure the slightly watered-down naked RSV4 would paint a silly grin on our face, it’s the headshot of this bike that makes us cringe just a little bit — the RSV4 headlight just doesn’t work without the accompanying bodywork.

While your mileage may vary, at least one dealership in France appears to agree with us, and has taken matters into its own hands. Putting together what it calls an Aprilia Tuono V4 Street, Paris-Nord Moto has created its own special version of the Aprilia Tuono V4 R with a new headlight and half-fairing design.

Yamaha FZ8R Cometh?

02/15/2011 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Yamaha FZ8R Cometh? Yamaha FZ8R

While getting a tour of Yamaha’s French factory (you know, the one they’re keeping open), the folks at MotoBlog.fr spotted something they’d never seen before: an upgraded FZ8 naked bike labeled as the Yamaha FZ8R. After some negotiating with the tuning fork brand, the French publication was allowed to take a photo of the bike’s body panel, as a sort of proof of life in their story.

Expected to be announced soon, the francophones spotted on the FZ8R an upgraded exhaust by Lazer, Öhlins suspension stickers (and perhaps an Öhlins shock), but what looked to be stock forks and stock brakes.

Yamaha Closes Spanish Plant – Consolidates in France

02/07/2011 @ 11:45 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Yamaha Closes Spanish Plant   Consolidates in France Yamaha Logo 635x424

Yamaha recently announced that it will be closing its factory in northeastern Spain, and consolidating the production into its Saint Quintin plant in France. The move comes as a result of Yamaha feeling the pain from the dwindling global demand for motorcycles, resulting in the Spanish plant having considerable excess capacity in its production.

Located near Barcelona, Yamaha’s Spanish Palau-Solita i Plegamans facility is capable of producing 130,000 units per year, but only managed 96,000 in 2010. The plant’s closure will affect 420 jobs, and Yamaha management has already reportedly confirmed that they will be forgoing any bonuses for the first half of 2011, and will be taking a healthy pay cut (15%-30%) during the same time period.

Alstare Drops to One Suzuki Format in WSBK

09/28/2010 @ 6:45 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Alstare Drops to One Suzuki Format in WSBK leon haslam leaves alstare suzuki 4 560x372

After yesterday’s announcement that rider Leon Haslam would be released from his contract at Alstare Suzuki because of a lack of factory support, the Alstare Suzuki team announced today that it would be fielding only one rider in World Superbike next year. Alstare will continue to work with Suzuki, but it’s unclear exactly how much support the Japanese factory will be giving the team.

With Haslam’s departure, it can be deduced that Suzuki’s involvement won’t be on par with the rest of the factory teams, but remains none-the-less. Although no rider has been named for the 2011 WSBK season, Alstare says we can expect an announcement in that regard during World Superbike’s last stop at Magny-Cours this weekend.

Voxan Bought by Venturi – Electrics in Three Years

06/02/2010 @ 5:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Voxan Bought by Venturi   Electrics in Three Years voxan logo 635x423

Beleaguered French motorcycle company Voxan has found life after death, and today was acquired by Venturi Automobiles. Backed by an investment group in Monaco, Venturi itself was resurrected back in 2001, but with new cash in-hand the company sees motorcycles as a way to bolster its portfolio.

The French conglomerate has released some interesting plans for its newly acquired motorcycle company, namely that it hopes to have Voxan release a production electric motorcycle in the next three years.

Sometimes You Get the Bear, And Sometimes…

05/28/2010 @ 11:25 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Alex de Angelis had some rotten luck last weekend while competing in the Moto2 race at Le Mans, France. Minding his own business, de Angelis was unaware that wildcard Xavier Simeon had crashed behind him. He was also unaware that Simeon’s bike hadn’t crashed, and was careening straight for de Angelis. The rest writes itself, check it out in the video above.

MotoGP: Dominant Victory Overshadowed by Close Racing for Third During the French GP

05/23/2010 @ 5:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Dominant Victory Overshadowed by Close Racing for Third During the French GP MotoGP French GP Le Mans France 560x401

MotoGP action was back this weekend, with racing for the French GP coming from Le Mans, France. Fiat-Yamaha looked very strong coming into Sunday’s race, with a 1-2 qualifying session. Casey Stoner also looked like he had the French track’s number, as the Australian was the fastest rider in the warm-up session. Not to be counted out though, the Repsol Honda’s were sporting new frame configurations, which they were hoping would be the remedy to a lackluster start to the season. Read after the jump to see how it all panned out.