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.

BMW Consolidates 2013 World Superbike Effort

07/16/2012 @ 2:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

BMW Consolidates 2013 World Superbike Effort Leon Haslam flat tire Miller Motorsports Park 635x423

In an effort to reduce costs and focus resources, BMW Motorrad announced today that it would be consolidating its World Superbike racing program for the 2013 Championship. Folding the factory BMW Motorrad team into the current BMW Italia squad, the Italain arm of the German company will run the WSBK program, developing the chassis, finding sponsors, and handling all race-related items, while Munich will develop the WSBK-spec BMW S1000RR’s powertrain and electronics package.

Carlos Checa Re-Signs with Althea Ducati…Finally

10/17/2011 @ 12:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Carlos Checa Re Signs with Althea Ducati...Finally Carlos Checa Althea Ducati WSBK Portimao 635x441

Good news for Carlos Checa, as the Althea Ducati race team has finally extended the reigning-World Superbike Champion a contract for the 2012 season. Recently, Checa was in the precarious position of having clinched the 2011 World Superbike Championship, and yet had no contract for the 2012 season. Stuck in the tug-of-war between Althea Racing and Ducati Corse, as well as the scandal currently gripping Althea Ceramics, Checa’s future with the Ducati squad was in question to such an extent that the BMW Italia team offered the Spaniard €800,000 to ride one of its BMW S1000RRs in 2012.

BMW Italia Looking to Poach Carlos Checa off Althea Ducati

10/14/2011 @ 3:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

BMW Italia Looking to Poach Carlos Checa off Althea Ducati Carlos Checa Althea Racing 635x474

In what can only be described as an ambitious move, BMW Italia is trying to poach newly crowned reigning-World Champion Carlos Checa from the Althea Duacti racing team. Rumored to have a €800,000 offer on the table, Checa has until Saturday (tomorrow) to respond to the offer. With the 2011 World Superbike season set to end this Sunday, Checa finds himself in the precarious position of having just clinched the 2011 WSBK Championship, yet having not concrete contract for next season at this season’s conclusion.

Toni Elias to Test with BMW Italia’s WSBK Team

09/12/2011 @ 6:37 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Toni Elias to Test with BMW Italias WSBK Team Toni Elias MotoGP LCR Honda Scott Jones

It’s not exactly a secret that Toni Elias has been having a tough season in MotoGP this year. Typically two to three seconds off the pace from the front-runners, you’d be hard pressed to remember that the Spaniard was once a rising start in the MotoGP paddock, and dominantly won the 2010 Moto2 Championship. Rumors of Elias’ exit from the LCR Honda have been going almost from day one it seems, though the down to Earth and pleasant rider continues to persist onward.

Though electrifying the crowds with his first race win in 2008, Elias appears to be on his way out of MotoGP…for the second time in his career. Unable to do anything with the LCR Honda that Randy de Puniet confidently rode in 2010, Elias is now reported to be testing at Misano this week with the BMW Italia World Superbike squad, which in-turn recently just lost James Toseland to a career-ending hand injury. With WSBK becoming the home from MotoGP’s Lost Boys, a move to the premier production motorcycle racing class seems almost fitting for Elias, but is that in the cards?

WSBK: James Toseland Retires from Racing

09/09/2011 @ 3:17 am, by Victoria Reid7 COMMENTS

WSBK: James Toseland Retires from Racing toseland 635x420

James Toseland announced his immediate retirement from racing today, citing irreprable damage to his wrist after an early 2011 testing injury at Aragon. The two-time World Superbike champion had been riding for BMW Motorrad Italia in the 2011 season, but had sat out a number of races after an intricate and difficult injury left him with pins and a reduced range of motion in his right wrist. Toseland competed in MotoGP in 2008 and 2009, never finishing on the podium or winning pole.

On his Facebook page, Toseland wrote, “Difficult day today. Another visit to the Consultant about my wrist has brought bad news. It’s with sadness that I tell you I’ve been forced to retire from racing and I wanted you to be the first to know.” He continued, “I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a successful career in racing and one of the highlights has been the support from all of you. Thank you, I am truly grateful.”

James Toseland to Return to WSBK Racing at Monza

05/04/2011 @ 1:55 pm, by Victoria Reid6 COMMENTS

James Toseland to Return to WSBK Racing at Monza James Toseland BMW Italy S1000RR WSBK 635x422

As World Superbike prepares to end a three-week hiatus at Monza this weekend, former-champion James Toseland also looks to make a comeback after a testing injury kept him from two race weekends. The Briton broke his wrist whilst testing at Motorland Aragon back in March 18th during a highside that saw him landing on his head and right wrist — as he had joined teammate Ayrton Badovini and the factory Kawasaki team in Spain for testing between the first and second rounds of the Championship.

Though Spanish doctors originally cleared Toseland to race his home round at Donington Park, a specialist in England “found that I had badly displaced bones in my wrist. At that point, things were getting critical as there was no blood flow in the wrist, meaning that the bone could die if I wasn’t operated on immediately,” explained Toseland.

WSBK: Kawasaki & BMW Italia Testing at Aragon

03/16/2011 @ 12:45 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off

WSBK: Kawasaki & BMW Italia Testing at Aragon Motorland Aragon Spanish MotoGP track 635x483

Motorland Aragon will host a private test for the factory Kawasaki and BMW Motorrad Italia World Superbike teams Thursday and Friday this week. Though Kawasaki had a good bit of winter testing both at the official WSBK test in Portugal and private testing in Sepang, the Italian BMW team suffered the effects of inclement weather and lost testing time. This private test comes just one week before the World Superbike season resumes at Donington Park in England, whose improvements have recently been approved by the FIM.

Importantly for Kawasaki, Chris Vermeulen is expected to test in Spain. After injuries and surgery kept him out of much of the 2010 season, the Australian hoped to return at his home round but was unable to pass the physical. He sat out testing and racing in Australia, remaining at home and working on his physical therapy.

BMW S1000RR Superstock Limited Edition

02/23/2011 @ 2:33 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

BMW S1000RR Superstock Limited Edition BMW S1000RR Superstock Limited Edition 5 635x423

To help celebrate Ayrton Badovini’s complete domination of the 2010 FIM Superstock 1000 Championship (the Italian won nine out of the ten races, finishing second only in the tenth race), BMW Italia is releasing a limited edition BMW S1000RR street version of the winning superstock bike.

With only 50 units being made, and available only in Italy, lucky owners will get the already potent S1000RR, along with a bevy of aftermarket goodies like a Akrapovic “Racing Exhaust” (pictures show a slip-on though), Gilles Tooling rearsets and levers, carbon fiber panels, LED turn signals, and of course BMW Italia’s racing colors.

Photos: BMW S1000RR WSBK Hits the Wind Tunnel

11/16/2010 @ 11:07 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Photos: BMW S1000RR WSBK Hits the Wind Tunnel BMW WSBK S1000RR wind tunnel 11 635x423

As the BMW World Superbike team prepares for the 2011 season, Leon Haslam and Troy Corser took a break from their training regiment to spend some time in BMW’s wind tunnel facility in Bavaria. Looking to hone the maximum performance out of the S1000RR, both riders worked on their optimal streamlined body positions in speeds up to 150 mph. The BMW WSBK team also looked at the S1000RR’s fairing, examining how to optimize the bike’s Cx or coefficient of drag (we assume any modifications that were made were WSBK legal of course).

The team will get to test its results later this month in Jerez, and in the meantime Haslam and Corser will be shipped off to a BMW fitness training bootcamp with fellow BMW riders James Toseland and Ayrton Badovini from the BMW Italia squad, along with members of the BMW Enduro team. We don’t like the sound of this training camp, but BMW has given us 12 high-quality shots of the S1000RR in the wind tunnel, which we enjoyed.