Indianapolis GP Named Best Grand Prix by MotoGP

At the conclusion of each GP season, an awards ceremony is held to celebrate the year’s champions, crowning the top riders in each category, the top manufacturers, and even the top venue for the season. This year, the honors of the latter went to familiar locale, as the Red Bull Indianapolis GP round was named the “Best Grand Prix” of the 2014 season, making it the first North American round to receive such an honor. Selection criteria for the award included consideration of the venue, promotion, and overall facility operations. For the 2014 race, Indianapolis Motor Speedway once again repaved its infield section, making alterations to several turns in order to facilitate passing and adding to the track’s overall consistency.

Up-Close with the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200

If there’s a motorcycle that launched at EICMA that I wish we had given more coverage to, it would be the 2015 Ducati Multistrada 1200. The new adventure-sport machine from Ducati is all-new for the next model year, though it would be hard to tell it from the photos. Even our modest collection of “up-close” photos here don’t do justice to the venerable Multistrada. The face of the Multistrada 1200 has been reworked, with the “beak” softened a bit from its falcon-like profile. The intake inlets are larger in appearance, and the headlight housing is noticeably different with its six LED projectors for the Ducati Corner Lights system (on the “S” model). This perhaps makes for an interesting “face” on the motorcycle, and like its predecessor, you will either love it or hate it.

Marco Melandri Returns to MotoGP, with Aprilia

After finishing fifth in the 2014 World Superbike Championship with Aprilia, Marco Melandri will continue with the Italian manufacturer, but switch to the MotoGP paddock for next season. Melandri will join Alvaro Bautista in the Aprilia Racing garage, where they will compete on an updated version of the ART machine, which was originally built to compete under the CRT bike rules. The team, now operated by Gresini Racing, will come up to speed during the 2015 season, and in 2016 they will race with a brand new race bike, which will use the compulsory “open” spec-electronics from Magneti Marelli. For Melandri, the move to MotoGP is a bit of gamble, with Aprilia’s program uncertain.

Up-Close with the Honda RC213V-S Prototype

I can’t decide whether to be elated or disappointed over the Honda RC213V-S prototype, which was debuted this week at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. On the one hand, the RC213V-S lived up to the hype…literally a MotoGP race bike with lights, mirrors, turn signals, and a license plate. On the other hand, for all the waiting and consternation from Honda, what they brought to Milan was a fairly derivative and obvious design. Rumors of a true MotoGP-derived sport bike from Honda have been circling for several years now (closer to a decade, if you’re a reader of MCN), and the project borrows the ethos found in the Ducati Desmosedici RR project, another exclusive GP-bike-for-the-street motorcycle.

The Ducati Streetfighter 848 Is Spared the Axe for 2015

The Ducati Streetfighter lives for another year, as Ducat is showing off the Ducati Streetfighter 848 as a 2015 model year machine at the EICMA show in Milan. There had been doubts about the Streetfighter 848 continuing to be a part of the Ducati lineup going forth, especially as the Italian company has moved away from the 849cc v-twin platform, favoring the 821cc engine variations for the Hypermotard the Monster lines, and the 899cc Superquadro for the Panigale. The Streetfighter was never a big hit in the world market, becoming more of a cult classic machine amongst riders. Combined sales with the Hypermotard account for roughly 20% of Ducati’s annual sales, with the Hypermotard doing the majority of the heavy-lifting in that regard.

Moto Guzzi MGX-21 Prototype

Cruisers really aren’t our cup of tea here at Asphalt & Rubber, which might explain the lack of coverage for America’s gift to the two-wheeled world on our website. That being said, it’s hard to pass on the lurid Moto Guzzi MGX-21 prototype that is on display at this year’s EICMA show. A reworked Moto Guzzi California 1400, the MGX-21 is clad in carbon fiber, matte black paint, and red highlights. The carbon fiber disc wheels are a nice touch too (that’s a 21″ wheel up front, by the way), as are the sweeping lines from the front cowl and fenders. We’re finding ourselves a bit smitten with this Moto Guzzi, as true to the brand, it strays from the cruiser norm. We think you’ll like it too, check out the photos after the jump.

Up-Close with the Honda “True Adventure” Prototype

One of the more anticipated motorcycles at the 2014 EICMA show, off-roaders were expecting to see the new Honda Africa Twin in Milan this week. Instead, Honda trotted out what they’re calling the “True Adventure” prototype. Despite not being a production model, the True Adventure prototype looks ready for prime time, and we got a series of “up-close” photos of the machine. Most obvious is the bike’s parallel twin engine, which is rumored to be 1,000cc in displacement. That sizing/weight class seems to jive with the dual front brake discs, which also sports an ABS tone ring. We can expect Honda to have traction control operating off the front and rear wheel speeds as well, and other electronic packages as well.

Money: Motorcycle Racing’s Biggest Problem

What is the biggest problem in motorcycle racing today? Is it the predominant role electronics are playing, ruining the racing? Is it the ever more restrictive rules imposed, killing bike development and the spirit of Grand Prix racing? Is it the lack of competitive machinery, making it impossible for anyone but a factory rider to win a race? Or is it the dominance of the two top manufacturers, driving costs up and discouraging wider manufacturer participation? You can point to all of those and more as being an issue, but they pale in comparison to the real problem the sport of motorcycle racing faces at the moment: Money. Specifically, the lack of it, and the inability of almost everyone involved in the sport to find ways of raising any. All of the ills of both MotoGP and World Superbikes can be traced back to this single failure.

Investcorp Buys 80% of Dainese for €130 Million

A story we have been chasing for some time now, Lino Dainese has finally found a buyer for his namesake company, Dainese. The purchaser is the aptly named private equity firm Investcorp, which is headquartered in Bahrain, and has additional offices in New York, London, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi. Buying 80% of the company’s stock for a reported €130 million, Investcorp’s valuation of Dainese would therefore be set at €162.5 million. The other 20% of the company is retained by Lino Dainese, himself. Dainese’s future goals rest heavily on its airbag technology, as Dainese plans on bringing D-Air to markets outside of motorsport and sport in general. The company also has an aggressive plan to grow outside of Italy, making a bigger push into North America and developing markets.

Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen Concept

The second of Husqvarna’s street concepts, the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen is a scrambler styled machine that uses the same 373cc single-cylinder engine as the Vitpilen concept. Swedish for “Black Arrow”, the Svartpilen continues the idea that less is more, and applies the concept to a more off-road motif. Not all the dissimilar to the Moab and Baja concepts the Husqvarna showed before its acquisition by KTM, clearly the Swedish brand is keen to tap into its lost history of Steve McQueen and the scrambler motif. Perhaps Ducati’s foray into this space is added motivation, but the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen concept is a bike unique to itself. That might be because the concept machine is based off the KTM 390 Duke, which is an unlikely though budget-friendly donor machine.

John McGuinness Explains a Lap Around the Isle of Man TT

06/25/2012 @ 8:46 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

John McGuinness Explains a Lap Around the Isle of Man TT IOMTT 2012 08 635x456

John McGuinness, pictured here with brolly girl Bruce Anstey, is the undisputed King of the Mountain, having won 19 times on the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course. Even at 40-years-old and a bit thicker around the middle than his fellow racers, one would have a hard time arguing that McGuinness is not at the top of his game, as the man from Morecambe is well on his way to beating Joey Dunlop’s all-time TT race win record.

So how has McPint become the winningest living TT racer in history? With a massive amount of course knowledge, that’s how. Coupled to strong bike entries, and a team comprised of road racing’s top talent, it makes perfect sense why McGuinness is the favorite to win whenever a 1,000cc machine is involved, and you can’t count him out of the 600cc Supersport races either. Narrowly missing his chance to break the 20 race win barrier on an electric bike, McGuinness was also instrumental in the cancellation of the Senior TT at the 2012 Isle of Man TT, a race he likely would have won.

McGuinness and his team will be back next year though, as will his competitors who are eager to knock the King off his thrown. We imagine a few of them will be paying close attention to the course notes given in the video after the jump.

Video: John McGuinness – A Legend in the Making

06/18/2012 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Video: John McGuinness   A Legend in the Making IOMTT 2012 13 635x425

John McGuinees, the King of the Mountain, could quit road racing today and go down in history as a legend of the sport. The thing is though, Mr. McPint is showing no signs of slowing down, and in reality McGuinness is at the top of his game — adding two more race wins from the 2012 Isle of Man TT to his impressive total. Nineteen wins to his name, McGuinness was favored to win his 20th in the Senior TT, after coming in second during the TT Zero competition.

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt in the TT paddock that McGuinness will break the twenty-win barrier, a feat only ever accomplish by one other man: Joey Dunlop. But, fate has a cruel way of changing our expectations. Three wins in a TT fortnight is no easy matter, and no one wants to win more than John McGuinness himself. So, it goes to show you a bit about the man when you learn that McGuinness was instrumental in the canceling of the Senior TT, since his voice hold some of the most weight with the riders and Race Control — even though his own racing interests would have been served best by the race’s continuation in adverse conditions.

On that Saturday’s Senior TT, no one wanted to make more history than McGuinness — of course he wanted to do so in an entirely different way than what occurred. It will now be a long wait before he can lay claim to that twentieth IOMTT victory trophy, but John McGuinness isn’t too worried about that I suspect, and I reckon he has his eyes leveled firmly on the horizon, staring at what would seem to be an impossible an impossible number that starts with three.

The 2012 Isle of Man TT with Daniel Lo

06/14/2012 @ 7:59 am, by Daniel Lo5 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Good Man

06/12/2012 @ 12:14 pm, by Daniel Lo6 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Good Man guy martin 635

The stage was set for Guy Martin to take his first ever TT win in 2012, with the popular fan favorite returning with the same team with which he scored four podium finishes in the previous year’s contest. Top-level crew, competitive machinery, and one of the fastest men to ever lap the Mountain Course teaming up again for another assault. Reaching the top step of the podium should be all but a forgone conclusion — or at least in theory.

What resulted instead was truly a week to forget, starting with Guy getting nudged off the podium in the opening Superbike race when his crew was unable to change his rear tire for the final two laps. The first Supersport race ended prematurely after his engine gave out, forcing a retirement into the pits, after just a single lap. The Superstock race that followed was barely an improvement, with Guy taking an anonymous eighth place finish, after being off the pace from the start. Further engine problems in the second Supersport race again saw him off the podium, finishing down in fifth. To cap it off, a final shot at a good result was thwarted by the first ever cancellation of the Senior TT race. Things did not go according to plan, to say the least.

Up-Close with Ian Hutchinson’s Swan Yamaha R1 Superbike

06/11/2012 @ 7:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Up Close with Ian Hutchinsons Swan Yamaha R1 Superbike Ian Hutchinson Swan Yamaha R1 IOMTT 11 635x425

Ian Hutchinson may not be a household name here in the United States, but over on the Isle of Man, “Hutchy” is a pretty big deal. Winning five solo-class races in the 2010 season, the English rider’s hot-streak was cut short after a tragic closed circuit racing accident, which saw him sidelined for the 2011 TT fortnight. Suffering another leg injury going into the 2012 racing season, Hutchinson was still physically not 100% as he headed to the TT, with the Swan Racing Team making obvious adjustments to his Yamaha YZF-R1 to accommodate Hutchy’s injured leg.

While Hutchinson would ride through the pain, he was noticeably off the pace during this last TT meeting. While a large component of those results are surely products of his physical state, where were compound by the fact that his practice and racing schedule has been truncated, many also wondered about Hutchinson’s mental state as well. Twice beaten, once shy, one Swan team member explained to me that when you looked into the his eyes as he got on board the bike, there was something there that didn’t exist before in Hutchy’s eyes. “Fear?” I asked. The team member wouldn’t comment further.

IOMTT: Farquhar Wins the Reinstated Lightweight TT

06/09/2012 @ 8:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Farquhar Wins the Reinstated Lightweight TT Ryan Farquhar Lightweight TT 635x425

Suffering the same postponement and delays as the PokerStars Senior TT, the 2012 BikerPetition.co.uk Lightweight TT overcame the adverse conditions, finally getting its start well into the Saturday afternoon.

With the 650cc twin-cylinder class getting reinstated for the 2012 Isle of Man TT, there was tremendous pressure for the race to go ahead this fortnight, especially with the number of entries that solely arrived to compete in the class. Reduced from four laps to three, the strategy for the Lightweight TT got amplified, with riders having to choose when to take their pit stop: ahead of Lap 2 or Lap 3.

IOMTT: Senior TT Cancelled for the First Time Antebellum

06/09/2012 @ 7:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Senior TT Cancelled for the First Time Antebellum 2012 Senior TT 635x425

The 2012 PokerStars Senior TT is making history books, despite the fact the race was postponed from Friday to Saturday, and ultimately cancelled late in the afternoon on its rescheduled race day. The first time the Senior TT has been called for track conditions, the only other time the blue ribbon race has failed to run has been during the TT’s racing suspension for WWI and WWII.

Leaving fans to wait along the Mountain Course for several hours, the race was finally scrapped after a contingency of TT riders viewed the full course via automobile. Finding damp patches along sections like the Mountain Mile, John McGuinness et al deemed the race too risky for the 200+ bhp superbikes, though they thought that the tamer inaugural Lightweight class (650cc twins) would be alright to make the run.

IOMTT: Watch the 2012 Isle of Man TT Right Here

06/08/2012 @ 1:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Watch the 2012 Isle of Man TT Right Here John McGuinness Ballaugh Bridge IOMTT 635x425

I’m going to put my fingers in my ears and go “lalalala” on this one, since someone has ripped ITV4’s coverage off the telly and put it onto the intertubes. With television networks not getting Friedman’s memo about the world being flat, those of us with an IP address outside of the United Kingdom are SOL when it comes to watching the FREE COVERAGE of the 2012 Isle of Man TT episodes on ITV4’s website. Thankfully, a more enlightened individual has put the coverage up on YouTube for those outside of the Queen’s domain to view. Enjoy it while it lasts.

IOMTT: Conor Cummins Fit to Race in Senior TT

06/07/2012 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Conor Cummins Fit to Race in Senior TT conor cummins 635

Manxies will rejoice to the news that local-man Conor Cummins has been declared fit enough to race in Friday’s Senior TT at the 2012 Isle of Man TT. Caught in a crash during the North West 200 with Gary Johnson, Cummins has been on the sidelines of the Isle of Man TT fortnight with an injury to his right hand. The Tyco Suzuki rider’s appearance at the blue ribbon race will be a boon to the BSB team, as so far Cummins’ teammate Guy Martin has been unable to put the Suzukis on the podium.

Though Cummins had circulated during some of the practice sessions, Cummins has sat out all of the solo races thus far at the TT, much to the disappoint of his home crowd. Spending some time in a hyperbaric chamber and doing some physiotherapy, Cummins has been able to heal enough over the past week in order to salvage his Isle of Man TT outing, and put down a 125 mph lap during the Senior TT qualifying.

Up-Close with McGuinness’s Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR

06/06/2012 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Up Close with McGuinnesss Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR John McGuinness Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR 02 635x425

The bike that carried John McGuinness to his 18th career Isle of Man TT win, the very same Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR could be the King of the Mountain’s stead to an even 20 wins this TT fortnight. Making 200+ bhp, the factory-backed Honda CBR1000RR has to contend with some of the most gruel miles in racing, and has the scars to prove it. Pitted and potted with rocks and pebbles from the course, McGuinness’s ride on the CBR is an equally tumultuous affair.

Splitting his time equally between head shakes and wheelies, it is no small feat in keeping a TT bike on-line at the famous road course. Only able to complete two laps before needing to be refueled, the Honda TT Legends race team has not only optimized the Honda CBR1000RR for the 37.733 mile Snaefell Mountain Course, but also for the single and double pitstops it will have in the Senior TT and Junior TT races, respectively.

Looking at the bikes of the other teams, what is most striking about McGuinness’s ride, aside from its drool-worthy livery homage to the Honda RC30, is how stock the bike appears. Sure, there is a heavily massaged and tuned motor underneath that bodywork, and the bike’s top-shelf brakes, wheels, and quick-shifter are readily apparent, but for a bike that any racer would kill to ride, the Honda TT Legends CBR is rather unassuming, as is its portly rider. Maybe that is how they like it.