The ongoing dispute between 1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz and the Circuit of the Americas, the track in Austin due to host a round of MotoGP in April, took another ugly turn during the private test arranged by Honda, Yamaha, and the two US CRT teams last week. Schwantz, who has been acting as a mentor to Blake Young, the young American set to race the three US rounds of MotoGP with the Attack team on their Kawasaki-powered CRT machine, was escorted from the track, on the grounds that he did not have an invitation from the circuit to attend the test.
The incident has unleashed a war of words between the two parties. Immediately after the incident, MotoMatters.com's reporter on the ground Andrew Elder contacted the Circuit of the Americas press office, to ask for clarification on the situation. A CotA spokesperson replied by email that the test was a private event, that Schwantz had not been invited to the test by the Circuit, that he had no accreditation as a journalist, and that as he was engaged in a legal dispute with the Circuit over the rights to organize MotoGP races at the circuit, his presence at the track was not permitted.
Today, Schwantz issued a statement containing his side of the story, saying that he had been invited to attend the test by the Attack team as Blake Young's riding coach, and that he had an additional invitation from the LCR Honda team, who were also testing at the circuit with Stefan Bradl. Schwantz stated he had also been warned he could be arrested for criminal trespass if he were to enter the track again.
The affair can hardly be described as a PR triumph. Whatever the merits of the Circuit of the America's decision to refuse entry to Schwantz, given the very real legal conflict that exists between the two parties, by refusing entry to the legendary MotoGP rider, the Circuit comes out looking bad. Schwantz is a much-loved and highly-respected figure in all of motorcycle racing, and the specialist media will always pick up such a story and run with it.
Whether CotA were justified in refusing Schwantz access is open to question. Without knowing the full details of the case, or, speaking honestly, fully understanding the legal ramifications if they had allowed Schwantz access to the circuit, it is hard to make a judgment on the legal basis for CotA's decisions.
What is clear is that CotA come out of this looking bad, and that could surely not have been their intention. A Facebook page has already been set up calling for a boycott of the Texas round of MotoGP, though the page has yet to gain much traction. It is fair to say, though, that the very existence of such a page is not a good sign for the circuit.
Below are the statements issued by both Kevin Schwantz on his Facebook page, and the Circuit of the Americas in response to our questions:
I have read several reports regarding my attendance at the MotoGP test last week in Austin. I would like to make this statement:
"I had been in Switzerland over the weekend where I was the guest speaker at the St. Gallen University. I returned to Texas on Tuesday evening and on Thursday I was at CotA for the MotoGP test, with a proper credential supplied by the Attack team, to coach Blake Young. Additionally I was an invited guest of the LCR Honda team.
While there, CotA security informed me that CotA management requested I leave the track immediately and was not welcomed at the circuit. CotA's security force also accused me of criminal trespass and warned I would be arrested the next time I entered the track.
This comes as a tremendous disappointment to Honda, Blake Young, and myself. Especially because I am single-handedly responsible for bringing MotoGP to Texas and for the initial design of the facility to accommodate MotoGP racing."
Regarding your questions below, as you stated, Mr. Schwantz filed suit against Circuit of The Americas last year, and that case is working its way through the legal system.
The MotoGP test that that the Circuit hosted this week was a private event, and open only to participating teams and invited media. Mr. Schwantz was not invited to attend the session by Circuit of The Americas. He does not have any relationship with our company or venue, and he’s not a journalist. As such, he was not permitted access to the Circuit.
Since there is a pending legal case, there is little else I can share with you about this matter, but hopefully, this answers your question. Thank you for reaching out to us for clarification.The ongoing dispute between 1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz and the Circuit of the Americas, the track in Austin due to host a round of MotoGP in April, took another ugly turn during the private test arranged by Honda, Yamaha, and the two US CRT teams last week. Schwantz, who has been acting as a mentor to Blake Young, the young American set to race the three US rounds of MotoGP with the Attack team on their Kawasaki-powered CRT machine, was escorted from the track, on the grounds that he did not have an invitation from the circuit to attend the test.The incident has unleashed a war of words between the two parties. Immediately after the incident, MotoMatters.com's reporter on the ground Andrew Elder contacted the Circuit of the Americas press office, to ask for clarification on the situation. A CotA spokesperson replied by email that the test was a private event, that Schwantz had not been invited to the test by the Circuit, that he had no accreditation as a journalist, and that as he was engaged in a legal dispute with the Circuit over the rights to organize MotoGP races at the circuit, his presence at the track was not permitted.Today, Schwantz issued a statement containing his side of the story, saying that he had been invited to attend the test by the Attack team as Blake Young's riding coach, and that he had an additional invitation from the LCR Honda team, who were also testing at the circuit with Stefan Bradl. Schwantz stated he had also been warned he could be arrested for criminal trespass if he were to enter the track again.
Electronics are to take a further step in the world of motorcycle racing this season. In addition to being abundant throughout engine and chassis, Moto2 and Moto3 official tire supplier Dunlop is to introduce them into the tires. In an official press release issued today, Dunlop announced that they will be using RFID chips in the spec tires used in Moto2 and Moto3, to keep precise track of the tires used in both classes.
For the moment, the technology will be used solely to track tire usage in Moto2 and Moto3. Tiny RFID chips will be built into the official Dunlop tires during the manufacturing process, each programmed with a unique identifying code. Sensors in pit lane (shown in the photo here on the Dunlop website) will monitor when each tire leaves pit lane, and when they return. Using the database which maps which tires have been allocated to which riders, Dunlop can keep precise track of which tires have been used when, and for how long.
The technology is very similar to that used in biometric passports, or in stock tracking in warehouses, though a racing motorcycle tire is a far more demanding environment for an RFID chip. Dunlop already have some experience with the technology, having provided the same service in both BTCC (the British Touring Car Championship) and the FIA European Truck Racing Championship. Temperature profiles and construction are a little different in motorcycle racing, making the challenge a little more complex.
But this is a relatively simple use of the technology. The next stage for Dunlop is to provide real time feedback from the tires, passing the data back to monitoring systems using active, rather than passive, RFID chips. Though the FIM regulations ban the use of telemetry - that is, any data signal passed back from the motorcycle to the pits, with the exception of data used by Dorna for TV broadcasts, which is not made available to the teams - the tire data could be passed to the data logging system, making for more accurate tire monitoring than by simply using tire sensors.
Having Dunlop build the technology and make it available to the teams also limits the cost of development to the Moto2 and Moto3 teams, though clearly, providing extra data to the teams adds yet another level of complexity for engineers to try to work their way through, and favoring the teams with the smartest engineers. As the smartest engineers are generally smart enough to realize their market value, they also tend to work for the richest teams, who can pay them the best wages. That, however, is an inevitable side effect of a technical sport.
Though the introduction of RFID chips is in itself not yet of world-shattering significance, the long-term consequences will be very interesting to watch. Data - data gathering, data analysis and data transmission - are becoming totally ubiquitous in the modern world, and real-time tire monitoring has very interesting applications in street technology. Monitoring tire wear and loads on the race track is an important step, but monitoring them on the road could be a crucial factor in improving road safety. With tire pressure monitoring systems becoming more common on high-end road bikes, RFID telemetry could be the next big step forward.
The Dunlop press release announcing the introduction of RFID chips appears below:
Dunlop Motorsport trial innovative intelligence chip in one of world’s biggest sport categories
Dunlop Motorsport today announced the trial of new electronic intelligence innovation embedded into the tyre of the world’s premier motorcycle racing event – MotoGP, where Dunlop is the official tyre partner of the Moto2 and Moto3 championships.
The company has announced its future goal is to increase tyres’ intelligence to the point that tyres are feeding back vital real-time information to the rider. The starting point of this evolution takes place today through testing at Circuito de Jerez in Spain.
Dunlop Motorsport has teamed up with MotoGP organisers Dorna Sports and IRTA (International Road Racing Teams Association) with the aim of introducing its award-winning RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology at the start of the 2014 season. Dunlop Motorsport has already enjoyed success in global motorsport and truck industries with RFID, including the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in the UK and the FIA European Truck Racing Championship.
The key element of the RFID technology is a tiny, 1cm chip. The microchip is built into the tyre on the assembly line at Dunlop’s centre of excellence in Birmingham, UK and is programmed with a unique code that identifies the tyre, enabling automatic reading to see the type and size of the tyre as well as its unique identity number.
Revolutionising the Motorsport industry
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship in the UK and Dunlop Motorsport Europe successfully pioneered a world first in motorsport tyre technology in 2011 with all tyres on BTCC cars – exclusively supplied by Dunlop – automatically scanned as the cars drive into the pit lane. This ensures that each car is using the correct and allocated tyres at all times. In the FIA European Truck Racing Championship all Goodyear 315/70R22.5 truck race tyres are built with RFID. This system is used by the company for tyre management purposes at races and FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) officials use it for regulatory purposes.
The success of this innovative technology on four wheels is now being tested on Motorcycle tyres for the first time, explains Tony Duffy, Dunlop Operations Manager.
"When you look at key introductions in motorcycle motorsports over the years such as the restrictions of cylinders and gears in 1967 and the introduction of carbon brakes in 1988 we believe this is up there as one of the most significant introductions to Motorcycle racing since its inception.
"Firstly the RFID technology will be a huge benefit in ensuring no tyre is missed and we can provide the Moto2 and Moto3 organisers with a 100 per accurate log of each tyre’s activity. However, while the RFID chips only currently carry identifying data it may be possible in the future to make them dynamic so that real-time monitoring of various criteria is possible offering a range of exciting opportunities from a rider intelligence point of view.
"Whilst the technology has now been around for a couple of years in other global race categories, today we will be ensuring the RFID tags remain stable in the MotoGP tyre and fine-tuning the frequencies to the point where no tyre is 'missed' when bikes return from the track. Together with our technical partner Datalinx we have achieved a great breakthrough for motor sport globally and we are sure this will be a success in MotoGP from the start of next season.”
Awards and developments
In 2011 Dunlop was selected as “One of the best of the Automotive Sector 2011 – Innovation Technology Category” by a team of journalists from AutoData Publishing, the most specialised auto industry magazine in Brazil. This recognised the company’s work related to RFID technology in its tyres. Datalinx also scooped a major international award thanks to its involvement with RFID technology, winning the prestigious Most Innovative Solution of the Year trophy at Motorola’s Executive Partner Conference.
Dunlop’s 125th birthday
Dunlop celebrates its 125th anniversary this year but continues to look towards the future as it celebrates 125 years of leadership explains James Bailey Director of Marketing Dunlop Motorsport Europe:
“Looking back, our heritage and culture of technological innovation in competitive motorsport cannot be rivalled. Dunlop has had a long list of motorsport wins over the years on two wheels and four including more wins in the Endurance Motorcycle World than any other tyre manufacturer. Looking forward, we are now introducing new technologies such as the RFID as well as developing tyres for the Green GT H2, a car and technology that are part of the future of motorsport and motoring.
“This year alone Dunlop will be supplying over 250,000 tyres over the course of the season to over 500 different racing teams across more than 30 different championships worldwide from our Birmingham centre of excellence. With 2013 being Dunlop’s 125th anniversary we are more determined than ever to make it one of our most successful years ever.”Electronics are to take a further step in the world of motorcycle racing this season. In addition to being abundant throughout engine and chassis, Moto2 and Moto3 official tire supplier Dunlop is to introduce them into the tires. In an official press release issued today, Dunlop announced that they will be using RFID chips in the spec tires used in Moto2 and Moto3, to keep precise track of the tires used in both classes.For the moment, the technology will be used solely to track tire usage in Moto2 and Moto3. Tiny RFID chips will be built into the official Dunlop tires during the manufacturing process, each programmed with a unique identifying code. Sensors in pit lane (shown in the photo here on the Dunlop website) will monitor when each tire leaves pit lane, and when they return. Using the database which maps which tires have been allocated to which riders, Dunlop can keep precise track of which tires have been used when, and for how long.
"Hmm. I am beating Valentino, so why is that I still feel so empty? DAMN YOU MARQUEZ!"
Grey is the new blue.
"Who has the key?"
The ritual pose.
There's no looking back to Ducati for Rossi.
Richard Stanboli and Blake Young work out the next step for the Attack bike.
Pedrosa about to enter the section of track he might not dislike so much.
Bradl's a lumberjack and he's OK!
The Honda riders continue to work in the afternoon, but much of the attention is turning to entertainment rather than racecraft. Only Blake Young has improved his times, while Marquez and Pedrosa are turning lots of laps for the benefit of innovative camera work. Without the Dorna establishment here to clamp down on media, HRC are pulling out all the stops to shoot 1,000 frame per second corners, eye cameras, and on-board footage. Look for the Austin track to feature prominently in HRC promotions through the early part of the season.
Another interesting media note. For fans of the Faster / Fastest series of films, you'll be happy to know that Mark Neale has been on site all week shooting footage for an as-yet unnamed project.
It's a calm morning at the Circuit of the Americas, with Yamaha having shipped up yesterday. Honda is not relaxing, of course. Marquez logged 25 laps in total, splitting time between bikes and notably putting both within 0.1 seconds of one another atop the timesheets. Pedrosa edged down his time from yesterday on his 4th lap, and Bradl also improved his time early on. The teams will likely be searching through settings for some of the afternoon before putting their final assault on the Austin circuit near the end of day.
Off the track, things are even more exciting. Speedweek.de is reporting that Kevin Schwantz was prevented from entering the circuit yesterday. Schwantz had attended the previous CRT test at COTA as an advisor to Attack rider Blake Young, and was presumably going to serve in that role again. With the higher profile surrounding the factory test and presence of Schwantz fan Valentino Rossi, it would appear that the COTA management were wary of any controversy Schwantz's presence might generate. The lawsuit between the two parties is still pending for a hearing in Travis County court.
Even further from the track, Jorge Lorenzo spent the night cruising Austin with X-Gamer (and fellow Alpinestar sponsor) Jamie Bestwick. The two drove the track, picked up Rudy's barbecue and then spent time hanging out at Jesse James' Austin Speed Shop. All without generating a blip on the Austin cultural radar in the media hurricane that is SXSW.
Only one wall separates the GP Tech team from the Yamaha garage. Might as well be a chasm.
The LCR team are working well here. They also wash their bikes a LOT.
Bradl lifts a wheel over the start/finish line.
Jorge looks slightly more composed.
The GP Tech bike clearly has superior electronics. Or ...
Marquez has both eyes focused squarely on the future.
A young man at great speed.
Jamie Bestwick gets ready for a night cruising the town with Lorenzo.
The second day of testing ended very similarly to the first, with Hondas leading the way. Bradl spent much of the day running amongst the factory bikes, although he didn't make the leap into the 2:03's alongside Marquez and Pedrosa.
The Yamaha riders logged over 60 laps each, making the most of their last day of testing. Rossi is now jetting off to Brazil for a prior engagement, while Lorenzo is presumably preparing to be hung tomorrow over after cruising SXSW with X-Games stars and Jesse James.
Grip was less of an issue by the end of the day, although still short of ideal. Pedrosa experimented with the asymmetric Bridgestones, flipping the medium left/soft right to a soft left/medium right configuration (don't try this with your BT-003's) to help solve some of the front-end grip issues he was experiencing. It's hard to say if anything particular about the track is to Pedrosa's liking, but he seemed more comfortable with his results from today.
The Honda riders, including Bradl, will remain on track for one more day of testing. Gearing will likely be an area of focus as the riders try to find the best compromise among the technical combinations of slow corners, flowing chicanes and high speed straights.
Mike Barnes went down hard on the GP Tech bike, and the team will not be returning to test tomorrow. Blake Young exhibited visible frustration in the pits with set up issues, but was able to improve somewhat on the sizeable gap to the front runners. Life is certainly not easy for these CRT teams.
|7||xx||Michael Barnes||GP Tech||02:13.993||10.140||00.352|
Based on a pit lane conversation, I got the impression that Alberto Puig might be moving to Austin.
Pedrosa tips his Honda in Turn 1. Nobody is happy with the grip yet, least of all Dani.
Working alone in a quiet garage, Bradl has made substantial progress.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Lorenzo has an easy way about him, and always has a smile for everyone in the briefing.
Pedrosa does not.
The secret: it's tires all the way down.
Marquez is the blur that everyone's chasing here.
I have leathers that look like this. Crashed leathers.
Marquez strolls in front of the Circuit of the Americas signature.
One of the many faces of Rossi. Here: Hopeful.
The riders testing in Austin will have several advantages when the MotoGP race is held here in April. Track knowledge and baseline setups alone must be worth the expense to ship bikes and crew halfway around the world to this new circuit. But grip remains elusive, despite elevated temperatures from yesterday, holding times to within a few tenths of yesterday's best.
With only a handful of bikes circulating, the riders to a man are acknowledging that lack of grip is holding them back. For the Yamahas, both Lorenzo and Rossi are particularly concerned with exit grip from the circuit's multiple hairpins. For his part, Lorenzo is relatively pleased with a setup breakthrough near the end of yesterday and continues to make progress. Rossi continues to enjoy the circuit, but that has yet to get him into the 2:04's.
The factory Honda riders both noted the slippery track, but their bikes seem to get better acceleration out of the corners, and Marquez continues to work through elbow protectors the way most people use up chewing gum. Pedrosa seemed less than enthused with the morning work, and continues to search for gearbox and suspension issues that will serve as a reference point. Working alone, Bradl is churning through productive laps and he is progressing along with, and sometimes in front of, the HRC machinery.
With grip an ongoing issue, tires will be a primary topic leading up to the April race. Pedrosa stated that all the bikes are currently running Bridgestone's soft compound, which was confirmed by tire techs. As it is, the tire crews seem well pleased by the durability of the soft compound and expect their current batch to perform comfortably past race distance. Bridgestone's task will be to extrapolate the higher temperatures likely in a month's time, combined with the additional rubber from a full host of series and riders circulating, to determine how much softer the compounds can be in April.
|6||xx||Michael Barnes||GP Tech||02:13.993||09.630||08.475|
Asked about finding his way around the new circuit, Marquez confided that he was being careful not to show the others his best lines. The guy is competitive, in every sense of the word.
Following the surprising comment that NGM Mobile Forward Racing's boss, Giovanni Cuzari is in talks with Kawasaki about their potential MotoGP return, I've requested an official statement from the Japanese brand.
Asked to comment, Kawasaki Motors Europe spokesman, Martin Lambert, said: "There is no intention to re-join MotoGP. The Kawasaki MotoGP team, equipment and infrastructure were disbanded. The KHI [Kawasaki Heavy Industries – Ed.] intention is to concentrate on the official factory team in WSBK and also offer support in WSS. By missing the championship by just 0.5 of a point last year, Kawasaki has the energy to try even harder to a Superbike Championship win in 2013."
Kawasaki left MotoGP at the end of 2008 with the remaining team running the ZX-RR in 2009 with Marco Melandri under the Hayate banner and with Dorna's funding. Headed by Andrea Dosoli, and rebranded to Forward Racing, the structure then stepped down to the Moto2 class for 2010, before Dosoli left to join Melandri at Yamaha World Superbike, leaving Cuzari fully in charge of the now Italian team.
Key personnel behind Kawasaki's MotoGP team, including KHI engineer, Ichiro Yoda, are now involved in the in-house ran Kawasaki World Superbike Team. However, under the new regulations, should Kawasaki wish to return to MotoGP, the Japanese brands would have to join forces with an existing team and infrastructure, which could lead to a perfect tie-up with Forward Racing – the very same squad which took over the Kawasaki equipment at the end of 2008.
Speaking on the launch of the team in Milan last week, Giovanni Cuzari mentioned that he's in talks with several parties regarding the 2014 season, including Kawasaki and Suzuki, which already made its MotoGP return intentions public but have not officially teamed up with any of the current squads so far, despite Power Electronics Aspar's Randy de Puniet widely tipped as one of the 2013 test riders.