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Casey Stoner

MotoGP Primer

 Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa pilot Circuit of The Americas (photo by Keith Rizzo, Courtesy of COTA)

// MotoGP

This weekend, Austin will play host to the MotoGP World Championship, a two-wheeled series that brings the top technology in motorcycle racing to the heart of the Lone Star State. The race, an intense combination of speed and gravity defying track action, is the second race following the season opening event in Qatar.

MotoGP, touted as the world's oldest form of world championship racing, is considered by fans, media and riders around the world as the pinnacle of two-wheeled sports. Riders race in some of the most exotic and exclusive tracks in the world on top of the most advanced prototype racing machines in excess of 200mph. 

Like Formula 1, the extreme speed and intense competition between teams and riders has created a culture of glamour and exclusivity. The 18 racing events are held in 12 countries on five continents, and carry with them global sponsorship deals as some of the most reputable brands in the motorsport world such as Bridgestone, Shell, Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha, propel riders to the coveted championship win.

For the 2013 season, there are 24 riders representing 10 countries around the world. Unlike their four-wheeled grand prix counterparts, there are three riders in MotoGP from the USA (Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies and Colin Edwards) and two of which are native Texans (Spies and Edwards). The 2012 MotoGP championship was awarded to Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, his second title, with Repsol Honda Racing Team's Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner following in second and third positions, respectively.

There are 12 teams competing in the 2013 season with a mix of chassis and engine suppliers in three informal categories, Factory, Factory-Supported and CRT. Factory teams such as Ducati, Yamaha and Honda are fully operated and supported by the manufacturer. Factory supported teams and CRT teams however can differ in their level of support from the manufacturer, with CRT teams such as Pramac and LCR Honda being operated completely privately with leased bikes from the manufacturer.

This weekend's Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas is the second event in the calendar for the 2013 MotoGP season and the first motorcycle race to be held at the new Austin circuit. A full schedule of this weekend's event can be downloaded here, along with a track map here and overview of this weekend's event from the MotoGP site.

Tickets are sold by Circuit of The Americas:

Fans interested in attending the MotoGP race on Sunday, April 21, may purchase general admission tickets for the price of $59 per person. Children ages 12 and under receive free general admission tickets when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Sunday-only general admission tickets can be purchased on race day, April 21, at the Circuit’s Grand Plaza ticket office. Three-day general admission tickets are still available for $89 per person. College students and military personnel can purchase three-day general admission tickets for $49 per person with a valid student or military ID.  Three-day reserved seats start at $133 per person.

To get you pumped up, here's a Red Bull promo video showcasing the arrival of MotoGP to Austin:

Austin Pit Stop - May 18, 2012

Today marks the official six month mark until the Inaugural Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. What better way to celebrate than with a ton of news about motorsports and Austin!

// Austin News

Picture of the Ferrari F2001 on display by Austin Auto ShowThe 2012 Austin Auto Show is this weekend at the Austin Convention Center. Peruse the latest offerings from auto manufacturers and enjoy some extra perks, like the "Sim-Zilla" racing simulator by Ford (watch a video on their Facebook page here) and two Formula 1 show cars on display - a Ferrari F2001 that was driven by Michael Schumacher and the Williams FW33 with updated livery.

Tickets are $7 and the show runs Friday through Sunday from 10AM-10PM except on Sunday, when it ends at 6:00PM.

Formula Expo continues to add to their roster, with representatives from Williams and Lotus F1 Teams announced to attend. In addition to a "Pit Stop Challenge" and simulators, seven historic Formula One cars will be on display.

Formula Expo is June 16-17, also at the Austin Convention Center, and ticket packages range from $11.25-$50.00 and are on sale now.

// COTA News

The Austin American-Statesman reports Austin is "on track" for our November F1 race, shares a construction update and continues to keep public interest in mind while requesting access to records in the ongoing court case between Tavo Hellmund and Circuit of The Americas.

Racing towards the finish line for ticket prices, COTA sent out a pricing survey to gauge attendees' preferences in seats and understand what they are expecting to spend.

// F1 News

Maldonado carries his cousin away from the Williams Garage. Source: TwitterShortly after Pastor Maldonado's epic win at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend, a fire broke out in the Williams F1 Team garage. Initial reports indicated members of various teams were affected and taken by care flight for medical attention. Perhaps this heroic photo of Maldonado carrying his cousin captured the events of the day best. Read more on what is known about the fire in this Williams Press Release.

American Alexander Rossi made us proud during his run at Friday practice of the Spanish GP. You can read the full report here, and here is what Rossi had to say about the experience:

″I am very pleased with how this morning's session went. We completed the program the team had set and I acclimatised quickly to the step up to F1. This isn't my first time working with the team, I already have a day at the Abu Dhbai young driver test last year under my belt, but coming into a full race weekend is a very different proposition to the young driver test. Today wasn't about setting the quickest lap I could - there may have been another seven or eight tenths to be found but the main thing today was to learn as much as I could, contribute by following the plan, give the engineers clear, concise feedback, and not make any mistakes. That's what we did so I think it's been pretty much as good as it could have been.″

But we're also excited that Conor Daly, American driver and winner of last weekend's GP3 round two race in Barcelona, jumped in a Force India car this week for data aero mapping. Read more here.

The F1 teams and drivers are currently preparing for the next race on the F1 2012 calendar, the Grand Prix De Monaco in Monte Carlo. Stay tuned as we follow them to racing's Most Glamorous Race of the Season.

// Moto News

Yesterday the Twitterverse was chatting about MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner and his plan to retire at the end of the MotoGP season, citing his disappointment in the direction of the series. Today Autosport published an interview with the "boss of the rights holders to the MotoGP World Championship," Carmelo Ezpeleta. In the interview, there is a brief hint that during this month "we will know more" about the 10 year agreement between MotoGP and Kevin Schwantz in regards to COTA.

// Carroll Shelby (Jan 11, 1923 - May 10, 2012)

Carroll Shelby accepts the first-place trophy after winning the 200-mile International Grand Prix on April 3, 1960, at the Riverside Raceway in California. Associated Press.Carroll Shelby, legendary racer, Texan, chili-lover and father of the iconic Shelby Cobras and Mustangs, passed away last Thursday in Dallas, Texas.

Shelby won numerous races, including the 1959 24 Hours of LeMans and three national sports-car championships in the US. Driving a supercharged, specifically-modified Austin-Healey 100S he set 16 US and international speed records and was named Sports Illustrated "Driver of the Year" in 1956 and 1957. Unfortunately, heart complications forced him to retire from racing in 1960, so he transformed his passion for racing cars into building them.

In 1962 he built the first Shelby Cobra, the CSX2000, and in 1963 put his fleet of Cobras up against Ferraris, Porsches and Jaguars in Europe.

In the book The Cobra-Ferrari Wars 1963-1965, Shelby once said:

We knew, plus or minus, what capabilites of the Ferrari were, and we knew we would beat it. I knew that, if I could get the Daytona coupe, Ferrari wouldn't be in business.

Read more in this tribute, "A Life Well Lived."