Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Special Misano Helmet, 2014

The San Marino GP is truly Valentino Rossi’s home MotoGP round, and tradition sees him sporting yet another special helmet for the event. This year Aldo Drudi has focused his design on the people close to Rossi’s life, with the helmet also sporting the phrase “Misano ci dà una mano”, meaning “Misano gives you a hand”. A colorful piece, Rossi’s AGV Pista helmet is adorned with the handprints of the mechanics of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. There are also the paw prints of his beloved dogs Cesare and Cecilia, as well as his cat Rossano. You will also notice two sets of lips, from the two women currently in Rossi’s life, his mother Stefania and his girlfriend Linda. The last mark is a thumbprint from Aldo Drudi himself, a long time friend and designer for The Doctor.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board. Featuring the same displacement as the Yamaha FZ-09, it is a safe bet that Yamaha’s triple goes unchanged for the FJ-09, with the differences between the two bikes likely being mostly aesthetic. The CARB filing also lists two model numbers, which the astute will notice as being two color options for the FJ-09; and not two separate models coming from Yamaha, as other reports have indicated. This is normal from Yamaha North America.

Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

Trackside Tuesday: What Lies Ahead

11/06/2012 @ 8:08 am, by Scott Jones9 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: What Lies Ahead Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati MotoGP Scott Jones

With all three world titles settled as we head to Valencia, some find their attention more focussed on the test that follows the season’s final round, rather than on who will win any of the weekend’s three races.

Certainly Rossi’s future reunited with Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo as teammate is a subject of great interest, as is Marc Marquez on a factory Honda. But also there’s the future of Ducati to ponder, as a returning Nicky Hayden is joined by Andrea Dovizioso, while Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone join up to ride for the factory’s junior team.

Here are four gifted riders with several world championships between them. But as good as they are, none of them is Casey Stoner. And none of them has the financial backing of Valentino Rossi, who was able to ask for major changes to the GP11 and GP12 designs, none of which resulted in a package that would allow Rossi to return to the front of the pack.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga to Replace Ben Spies at Valencian GP

10/27/2012 @ 8:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Katsuyuki Nakasuga to Replace Ben Spies at Valencian GP Katsuyuki Nakasuga yamaha 635x405

With the news that the injured Ben Spies would miss not only the Australian GP, but the Valencian GP as well, the American MotoGP rider’s miserable MotoGP season was abruptly ended after his fall at Sepang.

Set to ride on the Ducati Junior Team next season, Spies’ run with Yamaha now seems to have concluded, and the attention has shifted as to whom would ride in his place at Valencia, if anyone.

Despite a twitter campagin to get American Josh Hayes back on a Yamaha YZR-M1, Yamaha Racing have instead chosen test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga to replace Ben Spies on the factory Yamaha.

MotoGP: Season Ends for Ben Spies after Surgery News

10/24/2012 @ 8:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Season Ends for Ben Spies after Surgery News Ben Spies Silverstone MotoGP Scott Jones

Crashing hard in the Malaysian GP, it initially seemed that Ben Spies had escaped serious injury, as the Clinica Mobile staff gave the American rider a clean bill of health at the circuit. Getting examined further in Kuala Lumpur however, it became apparent that Spies had suffered quite a number of injuries – an AC shoulder separation, a cracked rib in the upper-chest area, and bruising to his lung, to be precise.

Undergoing surgery today at the National Surgery Center near San Jose, California, Spies reported on Twitter that the operation had gone well, though the extent of his injuries will mean an increase in the duration of his recovery time, with 10 to 12 weeks being the number banded about. This news means that Spies will miss not only the Australian GP, but also the Valencian GP and the post-season MotoGP testing — a serious blow to the soon-to-be Ducati rider.

MotoGP: Veterans, Rookies, & Replacements Send-off the 800cc Era at the Valencian GP

11/06/2011 @ 7:18 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MotoGP: Veterans, Rookies, & Replacements Send off the 800cc Era at the Valencian GP Casey Stoner Valencia MotoGP 635x421

After a somber tribute to Marco Simoncelli, racing at Valencia commenced Sunday under ominous skies. While the weather has been variable throughout the Valencian GP, Sunday’s forecast was especially treacherous, as the off-and-on drizzle was neither damp enough for a full-wet setup, nor dry enough for race slicks. Nothing better highlighted this fact than a blitzkrieg lap by American Josh Hayes, which saw the AMA Superbike Champion on slicks dust the rest of the rain-shod MotoGP field by three seconds on the closing Warm-up Session lap.

With the wetter weather favoring the struggling Ducatis of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, the chance of rain equated to a chance for a Ducati Corse podium. The RC212V of Casey Stoner of course stands in their way as always, as does the Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa. Also fast this race weekend has been Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard surely encouraged by a local crowd, as well as the prospect that his results in Valencia could help sway a very reluctant Japanese management into racing in MotoGP next year.

Randy de Puniet is also worth mentioning, as the Frenchman has been one of the fastest Ducatis all weekend, and missed a front-row start by only .06 seconds. With four manufacturers starting in the top five grid spots, the 2011 MotoGP Championship and the era of 800cc GP bikes, concluded with some of the most diversity it has ever seen on starting line.

Photos: Marco Simoncelli Tribute Ride at Valencia

11/06/2011 @ 4:14 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Photos: Marco Simoncelli Tribute Ride at Valencia Marco Simoncelli MotoGP tribute Valencia 5 635x425

With every bike from the three GP classes out on the Circuit de Comunitat Valenciana, the sight was one that had to be seen in person to be truly appreciated. Lead by former-World Champion Kevin Schwantz, who rode Marco Simoncelli’s San Carlos Honda Gresini RC212V race bike, MotoGP, Moto2, & 125GP riders made their way around the 14 turns of the Spanish track, stopping short of the finish line. Watching two minutes of Valencian fireworks, MotoGP riders stood with the Simoncelli family, honoring the loved Italian one more time.

The entire event was somber, and as the fireworks subsided, the clamorous noise was contrasted with an eerie silence on the track and in pit lane. Riders walked back to the paddock with solemn & grim faces, barely saying a word to each other, if saying any words at all. Similarly, team members carried rear stands and walked race bikes back to pit lane in complete silence, perhaps reflecting on Marco one more time. Thirty minutes later, noise returned to Valencia, as the final 125GP race ever commenced.

Valentino Rossi’s SuperSic Tribute Helmet

11/06/2011 @ 3:09 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossis SuperSic Tribute Helmet Rossi Marco SImoncelli tribute helmet close up 635x400

Perhaps none of the MotoGP riders have been affected by the loss of Marco Simoncelli more so than Valentino Rossi. Not only was Rossi “like a brother to Marco,” but the Italian was deeply shaken over his involvement with Marco’s accident at Sepang. With both Edwards and Rossi putting on a strong face publicly, the rest of us can only imagine the thoughts and grief that most be occurring internally. Everyone processes their grief differently, and one of Rossi’s more cathartic endeavors this weekend is to honor Marco with a special helmet for the Valencian GP. More photos after the jump.

Kevin Schwantz Will Ride Marco Simoncelli’s Race Bike in an All-Hands GP Memorial Track Ride

11/05/2011 @ 10:14 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Kevin Schwantz Will Ride Marco Simoncellis Race Bike in an All Hands GP Memorial Track Ride 58tribute Jason Phan 635x524

Sunday morning here in Valencia marks the final race of the 2011 MotoGP Championship, and the already bittersweet Grand Prix will become increasingly somber as the GP paddock will also be paying its final respects to Marco Simoncelli. Starting at 10:10am, 125GP, Moto2, and MotoGP riders will partake in a parade lap around the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana. The procession will be lead by Kevin Schwantz, who will ride Marco Simoncelli’s San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V race bike for the occasion.

MotoGP: Surprisingly Dry Qualifying at Valencia

11/05/2011 @ 7:10 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MotoGP: Surprisingly Dry Qualifying at Valencia Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati SuperSic 635x423

With rain coming down during the 125GP session, MotoGP narrowly avoided its own water-soaked qualifying. With wet sessions on Friday, the order of things was disrupted as the Ducatis clearly could overcome their problems in the damp conditions. As the track dried though, the Honda dominance returned, making the Spanish skies a huge factor for Sunday’s Valencian GP. Depending on who you talk to in the paddock, it’s either a guarantee for rain tomorrow, or it will be assuredly sunny, meaning no one has a clue what the weather will really be like.

While Stoner and Pedrosa have had their accustomed positions on the time sheets, Valencia has seen moments of brilliance from Hayden, Rossi, de Puniet, and Bautista, as all four riders have had an extra pep in their step during the inclement weather. The Spanish venue seems especially to favor the Spaniard Bautista, as the Suzuki rider has been a cut faster than previously in the season, no doubt encouraged by a home crowd and the desire to help Rizla Suzuki secure a future in MotoGP.

The other notable standout this weekend has been American Josh Hayes, who has been aided by the rain and adapted readily to the Monster Tech3 Yamaha YZR-M1 typically ridden by Colin Edwards. Not having to learn the carbon brake discs of MotoGP, and with the Bridgestone tires blunted by the water, Hayes has come up to speed rather quickly on the M1, finishing FP1 with a respectable P10. How that learning curve would change in the dry though remains a pressing question mark on the AMA Superbike Champion’s mind, though that seems to be the case for many riders this weekend. Qualifying results after the jump.

Misano Circuit to Change Name to Honor Marco Simoncelli

11/04/2011 @ 3:56 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

Misano Circuit to Change Name to Honor Marco Simoncelli Marco Simoncelli Misano circuit 635x421

With MotoGP riders at Valencia debuting their own personal tributes to Marco Simoncelli today, back in Italy an entirely different tribute has been undertaken, as the Misano Circuit is set to change its name to honor the fallen Italian motorcycle racer. While not one of Simoncelli’s favorite tracks, Misano was the Italian racer’s home venue, and hence forth it will be renamed from the Misano World Circuit to the Marco Simoncelli World Circuit in honor of the fallen rider.

Andrea Dovizioso: “Marco Was My Biggest Rival Ever”

11/04/2011 @ 12:28 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Andrea Dovizioso: Marco Was My Biggest Rival Ever Marco Simoncelli Andrea Dovizioso rivalry 635x421

One way you can gauge the life of a competitor is to talk to his rivals, and for Marco Simoncelli, there was no greater rival than Andrea Dovizioso. Racing against each other since the age of eight on pocket bikes, Dovi and Simoncelli have come through the GP ranks battling one another throughout every turn of their 125, 250, and MotoGP careers.With that on-track rivalry coming to a head this season, as both Italians were on factory-supported Honda RC212V race bikes, Marco and Andrea found themselves battling not only on the track, but off the track as well, as Both riders looked to secure the third and final factory bike from Honda for the 2012 season.

With Simoncelli winning the bid for a factory Honda seat, and such a fierce adversarial story brewing between the two racers, you would expect Dovizioso to have hated his counterpart, but nothing could be farther from the truth. As Dovi explained to A&R at Valencia this week, while the pair of Italians were rivals on the track, they were also colleagues who respected each others once the helmets, leathers, and gloves came off. Speaking solemnly to a small group of journalists, Dovizioso talked about a man who perhaps defined his own career more than the contrary, and while the Italian was clear to point out that he and Simoncelli were not friends, they both had a professional relationship of mutual respect forged out of two-wheeled combat.