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.

Videos: Alstare Says Goodbye to Suzuki and Hello to Ducati

02/11/2013 @ 11:00 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Videos: Alstare Says Goodbye to Suzuki and Hello to Ducati Ducati Alstare 1199 Panigale

Ending a 14 year relationship, the 2013 World Superbike Championship season sees Team Alstare under the flag of a new manufacturer, as the Belgian squad closes its story with Suzuki Racing, and begin a new one with Ducati Corse. An adjustment for many in the paddock, the name Alstare has always been synonymous with Suzuki, though the team’s absence this last season was a noticeable one, as Team Alstare has always been one of the top crews in WSBK.

In that regard, it seems fitting then that Alstare should find a partnership with another great name in World Superbike racing, and so while the name Team Ducati Alstare sounds a bit strange to the ear, it makes sense in the head. Bidding goodbye to Suzuki, and hello to Ducati, Team Alstare has put together two videos, which have more than a touch of bittersweet to them. Clearly, this is a wound that will still require some time to heal.

Alstare Uncertain About Suzuki WSBK Future

09/27/2011 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Alstare Uncertain About Suzuki WSBK Future Michel Fabrizio Alstare Suzuki Miller Motorsports Park Jensen Beeler 635x425

After going it essentially alone for the 2011 World Superbike Championship, the Alstare Suzuki team is weighing its options for 2012, as actual factory support from Suzuki for the “factory Suzuki” squad is again seeming unlikely. Releasing a “read between the lines” press release this week, Alstare has publicly put Suzuki Japan on notice over the fact that the Japanese manufacturer is expected not be developing the Suzuki GSX-R1000 further for WSBK, and will not fund Alstare’s own R&D efforts to remain competitive in the premier production-class.

As such, Alstare has been linked to other manufacturers, both in World Superbike and World Supersport, as the team is known to be one of the better run and organized squads in the WSBK paddock. Plagued with essentially running last year’s machinery with updates developed in-house, Alstare has made a lot of progress with the hand they’ve been dealt, though to run at the top of the pack would require more assistance from Suzuki.

With the Japanese company still reeling from the worldwide recession, support from Suzuki seems unlikely, though Alstare says the company is expected to make its official announcement by the Magny-Cours round this weekend. Read the full text of Team Alstare’s press release after the jump.

WSBK: Kawasaki Taking Bids for New Factory-Backed Team

07/20/2011 @ 5:05 pm, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

WSBK: Kawasaki Taking Bids for New Factory Backed Team monday wsbk miller motorsports park scott jones 17

Multiple teams have placed bids to become the 2012 factory Kawasaki racing team in World Superbike, including current factory team Paul Bird Motorsports. The five other teams include satellite Team Pedericini, the current Alstare Suzuki squad (who are less than thrilled with Suzuki’s lack of support), and the Supersonic Ducati team completing the current WSBK teams vying for factory backing. Also interested are British Superbike team MSS Colchester and factory World Supersport’s Motocard.com team.

For PBM, the process of retaining factory support is more difficult after team trucks and personnel were detained with drugs and weaponry when returning to Britian after the Assen round. Though the team said afterwards, “The team are confident that no team member has any connection whatsoever with the items discovered. No one has been detained after the time of the search and all team members are able to undertake their normal duties,” such an event certainly raised eyebrows, and likely soured with an embarrassed Kawasaki.

Official: Michel Fabrizio to Alstare Suzuki

10/13/2010 @ 1:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Official: Michel Fabrizio to Alstare Suzuki Michel Fabrizio World Superbike Ducati burnout 635x438

Our World Superbike silly season round-up from three weeks ago is now 3 for 3, as Alstare Suzuki has announced the signing of Michel Fabrizio to its “factory” team, replacing the departed Leon Haslam. The announcement is a homecoming for Fabrizio, who raced for Alstare’s European Superstock team back in 2003, but the Italian rider has a ton of work ahead of him as Suzuki’s support for the WSBK team is still highly questionable. Fabrizio got his first taste of the Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 World Superbike while testing at Magny-Cours last week, his first time back on an inline-four, after riding an v-twin all these years.

Alstare Drops to One Suzuki Format in WSBK

09/28/2010 @ 6:45 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Alstare Drops to One Suzuki Format in WSBK leon haslam leaves alstare suzuki 4 560x372

After yesterday’s announcement that rider Leon Haslam would be released from his contract at Alstare Suzuki because of a lack of factory support, the Alstare Suzuki team announced today that it would be fielding only one rider in World Superbike next year. Alstare will continue to work with Suzuki, but it’s unclear exactly how much support the Japanese factory will be giving the team.

With Haslam’s departure, it can be deduced that Suzuki’s involvement won’t be on par with the rest of the factory teams, but remains none-the-less. Although no rider has been named for the 2011 WSBK season, Alstare says we can expect an announcement in that regard during World Superbike’s last stop at Magny-Cours this weekend.

Haslam Officially Out of Alstare Suzuki

09/27/2010 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Haslam Officially Out of Alstare Suzuki Leon Haslam Alstare Suzuki 635x422

Alstare Suzuki announced this morning that Leon Haslam has been let out of his contract with the “factory” Suzuki World Superbike team. Although only halfway through a two-year contract, Haslam is said to have a clause in his contract that guarantees him factory support within the team. With Suzuki’s involvement being brought into question for next season, Alstare team principal Francis Batta has had no choice but to release Haslam from team obligations after Magny-Cours. Although no announcement has come forth, Haslam is widely believed to be taking Ruben Xaus’s seat at BMW for the 2011 season.

WSBK Silly Season: Haslam to BMW, Fabrizio to Alstare Suzuki, & Haga to an Aprilia [UPDATED]

09/21/2010 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

WSBK Silly Season: Haslam to BMW, Fabrizio to Alstare Suzuki, & Haga to an Aprilia [UPDATED] James Toseland Crash

UPDATE 3: Michel Fabrizio has signed-on with Alstare Suzuki team for 2011.

UPDATE 2: Leon Haslam has signed with the BMW Factory Squad.

UPDATE: It’s being reported that Noriyuki Haga has agreed to ride with the DFX team on a factory Aprilia RSV4, with  an announcement delayed out of deference to Biaggi’s impending WSBK crowning.

While the MotoGP silly season is just starting to wind down, the World Superbike shuffling of riders is apparently just getting underway. So far this silly season we’ve seen Marco Melandri make the switch into WSBK Racing, joining the young Eugene Laverty in the Sterilgarda Yamaha squad, and clearly displacing James Toseland from a job. Johnny Rea has also been in the news, confirming that he’d be with Ten Kate Honda next season, despite being only two years into a three year contract, which was a strange announcement at the very least.

After Ducati’s little spat with Infront Motor Sports last month, the Xerox Ducati Team will be no more in 2011, leaving factory riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki S.O.L. when it comes to gainful employment, which is where our fist batch of silly season rumors starts us. If Moto.it‘s Carlo Baldi is to be believed (he is the listed press officer for Althea Ducati after all), Haga will find himself on a satellite Aprilia ride, while Michel Fabrizio will go to Alstare Suzuki. If you’re a die-hard WSBK fan you may realize that means that current Alstare Suzuki star Leon Haslam must be finding work elsewhere, with Baldi putting the British rider in the factory BMW squad. Still with us?

Aprilia Halts RSV4 WSBK Development

09/15/2010 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Aprilia Halts RSV4 WSBK Development Max Biaggi Alitalia Aprilia RSV4 Factory WSBK 560x401

Aprilia is either confident or cocky, because according to MCN, the Italian manufacturer’s racing department has halted development on the 2010 World Superbike spec RSV4 Factory race bike. Comfortable with Max Biaggi’s 58 point lead over Leon Haslam and his Alstare Suzuki, Aprilia wants Biaggi to focus on racing with his current setup, rather than risk having a prototype part breaking, and costing the team and Biaggi the World Superbike Championship.

Haslam Looks for More Support from Suzuki Japan

07/01/2010 @ 8:57 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Haslam Looks for More Support from Suzuki Japan Leon Haslam out suzuki alstare 635x440

Trailing in the World Superbike Championship standings by 37 points, Leon Haslam has called on Suzuki Japan to lend him more support if they want to contend with Max Biaggi and Aprilia for the WSBK title. Losing the World Superbike lead at Miller Motorsports Park, Haslam and Suzuki have found the Aprilia of Biaggi slowly out-classing them at races.

Orginially favorited to win WSBK this year, Haslam says that unless Suzuki allocates more resources to his racing effort, the Japanese manufacturer will miss a golden opportunity to win a World Championship title, which is code for “Hey Suzuki, satellite bikes are beating your factory MotoGP team”.

WSBK: Landslide During Race 1 at Valencia

04/12/2010 @ 6:16 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Landslide During Race 1 at Valencia haga grid 560x373

World Superbike headed to Valencia, Spain this weekend for the third round of the WSBK season. With a strong Superpole by Cal Crutchlow, all eyes were on the Sterilgarda Yamaha to see if a surprise victory would occur. With the Championship heating up as riders are vetted into place, Valenica would prove to be a battlefield this weekend with more than one rider firing a warning shot across the proverbial bows of their competitors, signaling their intention to compete.