Car-ifornia: The Chevy Spark Loaner Car

It exists... Therefor it must be punished and flogged.


Moto: Guy Martin Will Only Drink Champagne Once He Wins The TT

I Just received "Guy Martin My Autobiography," in the mail yesterday.  I have a few other books to get through before I'll reward myself with this one but how can I not share this cool short video featuring him.


Found Coolness: A Website Specializing In Un-built Architecture

Mir is a creative studio that specializes in portraying unbuilt architecture.

We are dedicated to what we call Natural Visualisation.

Click around this site, besides the images the team bios make me want to work there... How you make a living designing un-build architecture is a mystery to me but I would love to try.


Of Interest: NYT Op-ed: What You Learn in Your 40s

Image Source: Twitter

As a 36 year-old who is slowly creeping closer and closer to the top of the hill I found Pamela Druckerman's New York Times Op-ed "What You Learn in Your 40s," heartening.  Check it out if you're like me and heading to your fourth decade on this planet or if you're already there it's a good read.


Music: Bon Iver's "Heavenly Father" Covered by Milo Bloom

I've mentioned in the past that I was excited to see Zach Braff's latest movie Wish I Was Here.  I'm still enjoying the soundtrack so when I saw this version of the song Bon Iver wrote specifically for the movie I had to share it.


MotoGP: The Stuff of Dreams Man Buys Rossi's GP11

 Image Source: Ultimate Motorcycling

I know... I know... it's easy to drink on the hater-ade when it comes to others acquiring the things we lust after but Kaming Ko is someone who came from .nothing and then became something.  To paraphrase from his essay: His dad was a chef and his mom cleaned houses. They lived in a small apartment just outside Chinatown in Los Angeles which was better than in Hong Kong, where their apartment building had no bathroom and we used a spittoon. And now we have the pleasure of reading the story of the man who purchased an authentic Ducati GP11 once piloted by nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.

Read about it here at: Ultimate Motorcycling

Image Source: Ultimate Motorcycling

Besides sharing his story, he shared his bike in the form of in-depth hi-res photos you rarely get to see of such a machine.  Once again you can find more at: Ultimate Motorcycling

The Cali' Experience: Grilling In February (At Night)

The Cali' Experience: Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School

I just like this view of the sun through the trees whenever I do a morning jog by Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School.


MotoGP: Ducati Finally Unveils the GP15

There are a whole barrel of hi-res images over on Asphalt and Rubber for you to peruse.

As I mentioned in my previous post: 2015 Sepang 1 Dark Horse Review (Marco Melandri)

"The GP15 is a new prototype designed and built from a clean slate and the first time it turns a wheel in anger at a test will speak volumes as to whether or not Gigi Dall'Igna has lived up to the uni-browed hype and has cured the understeer that has brought the careers of Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri, arguably Nicky Hayden and almost Valentino Rossi's to a grinding halt"

MCN (Motorcycle News) had a couple of small blurbs from Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi shared on February 11th and 14th respectively with their thoughts on the GP15's chances this year.  While there isn't a whole lot of meat to the articles they are worth checking out.

MCN: Jorge Lorenzo doubts Ducati title challenge

MCN: Valentino Rossi: Ducati threat depends on new bike

Today though... Andrea Dovizioso Begged to differ with the Yamaha Pair:

MCN: Andrea Dovizioso: “I believe we could fight for championship"

MotoGP: Why No Race In Indonesia

Moto Matters Has a Great article on why the holy grail market for Japanese motorcycle manufacturers (sadly) will not be hosting a MotoGP race any time soon click through to read it at the link below.

Politics And Corruption: Why There Isn't A Race In Indonesia. Yet.


Car-ifornia: The First Cut Is The Deepest

Found this when I was washing The Volt today.  I must have picked it up on the way home from San Francisco.  Luckily I have good insurance so it will be covered under comprehensive, with no deductible and it will not effect our premium.  Now if only I had time to get estimates sent in...


MotoGP: 2015 Sepang 1 Dark Horse Review (Marco Melandri)

The first day back after the winter testing ban in MotoGP never really sets the world on fire, but for fans of the series it does allow them the first glance of their favorite riders on the next evolution of their particular motorcycle, see how riders who have switched manufacturers fare on new machinery, and how returning manufacturers and riders stack up to the old guard.

Image Source: Mundomoto

For me, the latter was what really interested me on the first day.  The big bomb will not be dropped just yet; that being the roll out of Ducati's GP15, which for now is set for Sepang 2.  The GP15 is a new prototype designed and built from a clean slate and the first time it turns a wheel in anger at a test will speak volumes as to whether or not Gigi Dall'Igna has lived up to the uni-browed hype and has cured the understeer that has brought the careers of Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri, arguably Nicky Hayden and almost Valentino Rossi's to a grinding halt.  With that off of the docket; for me, the spectacle turned to Aprilia who was returning as a factory with the aforementioned long time dark horse Melandri.

After a horrible season in 2009 with Ducati, a demoralizing 2010 with the defunct Kawasaki MotoGP effort (under the Hayate banner) and a mid-pack 2011 finish with Gresini Racing the writing was on the wall that Melandri would be leaving the World Championship.  For me it always seemed to me that Marco had the capacity to be a World Champion but the circumstances had never lined up to make it so.  Seeing him take 2nd overall in the 2011 World Superbike season with Yamaha made me think that maybe his time had come and that 2012 would be the year for him to rise to the top again (10 years after he had last won a world title with the Aprilia).  Unfortunately once again circumstances shifted just as he was starting to build momentum, Yamaha pulled their factory effort out of World Superbike and Marco had to learn a new bike for the fifth year in a row.  2012 and 2013 saw him taking 3rd and 4th respectively with the factory BMW effort and 2014 saw another switch, this time to factory Aprilia and another 4th overall.

Another year and another change for for Melandri.  This year sees Melandri closing the loop in many ways, he is back in MotoGP an a factory backed Aprilia squad and back to Gresini; a team that he had has the most success with in the World Championship.  In 2005 he took a distant second to a Dominant Valentino Rossi; winning the last two races of the year in Istanbul and Valencia bagging five other podiums.  2006 saw him Winning three races Turkey (again), France and Australia with four other podiums for fourth overall.  Add to this the fact that his one and only world championship in 2002 in the 250cc class came on Aprilia machinery, you would think that he would have been chomping at the bit to take this opportunity but even at the post season test in Valencia Marco was was hardly committal when discussing his plans for 2015.  To me it seems that there was no other real viable option for him as it seemed that Aprilia seemed to be pushing him back into the MotoGP world.  Why the reticence?

Colin Edwards on Aprilia's previous MotoGP effort, the RSV Cube Sachenring 2003

I don't think it had anything to do with the above photo but anyone who is in the know who hears Aprilia and MotoGP in the same sentence surely has this image spring to mind.  Here's the scene, at the end of the 2014 season Gresini was in sponsorship trouble.  Their title sponsor Go & Fun either ran out of money or never delivered the money they had promised to gain the title sponsorship of the team which put the pinch on Fausto's outfit.  They already had to accept the support from Showa and Nissin (a Honda subsidiary) in the suspension and braking department.  Not because they wanted to be the only team in the paddock not running Öhlins suspension and Brembo brakes but because Honda, keen to get the race R&D offered them to the team for free.

Image Source: GPOne

The loss of that sponsorship money meant that Fausto Gresini found him self swallowing a very bitter pill; letting go of his second factory Honda lease and giving up his RC213V.  Having already let go of his first lease after the 2010 season and choosing to run a factory/CRT combo for 2011 things have not been on an upswing for Gresini Racing as of late.

Image Source MarcVDS.com

You don't let go of a factory Honda lease in the MotoGP world willy-nilly they are rarer than hen's teeth, proving that point is MarcVDS' last minute entry into the 2015 MotoGP paddock the bike became available and they knew they had to jump on it they had not plans on racing in the top class until that bike was freed up.

Image Source: Vroom Magazine

This is when Aprilia enters into the picture, they had been testing the MotoGP waters ever since 2012 when the CRT (now Open Class) formula was introduced.  Under the ART (Aprilia Racing Technology) they basically supplied their World Superbike RSV4 (though with a different frame per the CRT/Open rules) to teams in the MotoGP paddock.  But havd not officially entered the championship with a full factory team just yet.  Aleix Espagaro took top CRT/Open honors with 13th and 12th overall in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

My understanding is that Aprilia also did not have plans to return with a full factory entrant in 2015 until the eleventh hour as well.  They did not have the money to come in as a stand alone factory and this is where Fausto played one of his last trump cards, his team has backing for transport to all of the races which if I recall is worth around $8 million so once Fausto had no bikes, Aprilia or maybe it was Gresini himself saw the opportunity to get back into the game under the Gresini Racing umbrella and bringing to (albeit untested) factory bikes into Fausto's garage.

Image Source: MotoGP.com

All of the aforementioned circumstances I am sure weighed heavily on Melandri he really didn't have a choice it seems, Aprilia was pulling factory support from World Superbike and really it was probably his best option the whole time.  But once again I get to use the term "bitter pill" as while the official quote is:

“I was offered the chance to develop a completely new project and it is something that I have not yet done in my career since I have always had ‘inherited’ bikes. Precisely for this reason I am very intrigued by this challenge,"

I think in his head he was thinking of all the work he was going to have to do, riding the next evolution of the ART bike, developing the 2016 bike, learning to ride on the Bridgestone rubber, and then having to learn a whole new tire manufacturer the next year when the supplier switches to Michelin and that same year the switch to spec electronics.  The fact of the matter is that barring Aprilia bringing something magical to the grid Marco will spend the next two years slogging around in the middle of the pack at best and then likely get sacked for a younger rider who will pick up the project just as it is turning the corner and enjoy all the fruits of his labor.  Hence his initial period of denial of his plans for 2015.

Looking at the time sheets for the three days of the Sepang 1 Test they show dismal results for Marco:

26th (out of 30) on day 1 with a fast lap time of 2:04.502
28th (out of 28) on day 2 with a fast lap time of 2:04.487
28th (out of 28) on day 3 with a fast lap time of 2:03.641

Image Source: Suzuki MotoGP

If you compare him to Maverick Vinales who is much younger but finds himself in a similar situation; New untested bike, new tires, and a new team you can see the task Melandri has in front of him:

21st (out of 30) on day 1 with a fast lap time of 2:03.164
15th (out of 28) on day 2 with a fast lap time of 2:01.916
12th (out of 28) on day 3 with a fast lap time of 2:00.964

It also goes to show you why Vinales was the hot choice for Suzuki when they went looking for a young rider to match up with Aleix Espagaro.

Given the (we have to admit) dismal performance, the team principals seem to be willing to give Melandri the benefit of the doubt for now:

"As for Melandri, we knew that it would not be easy for him to get used to a completely new technical situation. Marco needs to adapt his riding style to this type of tyre and we know that takes time. We have confidence in him. The important thing is that he stays focused and determined."
~Fausto Gresini

Image Source: Ultimate Motorcycling

"There were a lot of technical aspects to tackle, but that is quite normal considering the fact that this was the first shakedown. I'm sure we would feel less pressure if it were just us lapping on private tracks, but that wasn't Aprilia's intention."

~Romano Albesiano

You can read the full team report here.

Marco has never really come to terms with the Bridgestone tires, He was 5th overall in 2007 on his first season on Bridgestone tires with the RC212V and the it was downhill from there with the Ducati the next year followed by two 10th overall seasons with Kawasaki and Honda again.  So we can hope for a revelation in testing or hope that he manages to impress enough to not get the boot before the Michelin switch in 2016.


Of Interest: Less Religion = More Morality

A L.A. Times Op-Ed: How secular family values stack up says what I have known for some time already.  As a new parent it is heartening to see those beliefs backed up by research.

"Many psychological studies show that secular grownups tend to be less vengeful, less nationalistic, less militaristic, less authoritarian and more tolerant, on average, than religious adults.

Recent research also has shown that children raised without religion tend to remain irreligious as they grow older — and are perhaps more accepting. Secular adults are more likely to understand and accept the science concerning global warming, and to support women's equality and gay rights. One telling fact from the criminology field: Atheists were almost absent from our prison population as of the late 1990s, comprising less than half of 1% of those behind bars, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons statistics. This echoes what the criminology field has documented for more than a century — the unaffiliated and the nonreligious engage in far fewer crimes."

Car-ifornia: Sunday Cinema - Authors@Google Alex Roy

In a previous post: Car-ifornia: Across The USA In 28 Hours 50 Minutes I mentioned that Ed Bolian had beaten the cross-country record previously held by the the subject of today's Sunday Cinema, Alex Roy.  To be honest I had not been aware of his feat when it happened and only became aware of him because he is a somewhat regular personality on the /Drive network on YouTube.  As I saw more and more of him I started to wonder what this guys deal was and it turns out that it was a pretty big deal.  Anyhow I figured that it's the morning before the Superbowl and some people might be looking for something entertaining to watch before the game.  I found this video on YouTube last night where Roy details some of the planning and logistics that went into his then record breaking run.  Check it out if you're interested!