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.

Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen Concept

In addition to debuting the Husqvarna 701 supermoto, the Swedish brand had two street concepts to unveil at the EICMA show. First up is the Husqvarna 401 Vitpilen concept, which is a café racer inspired model. With a 373cc single-cylidner thumper at its core, the Vitpilen (Swedish for White Arrow) sports an attractive and clean design. A modern riff on the 1953 Husqvarna Silverpilen, the idea behind the Husqvarna Vitpilen is that less is more. Making a modest 43hp, the Vitpilen weights a paltry 297 lbs (135kg). Clever details abound on the Vitpilen, and we particularly enjoy the high-tech LED meets retro-scrambler headlight design that sits prominently at the front of the bike.

2015 Husqvarna 701 Supermoto – 690cc of Street Hooligan

We perhaps over-thought Husqvarna’s first proper street bike announcement, as the firm has debuted the Husqvarna 701 supermoto at the EICMA show today. Refining its 701 concept from last year’s show, the 2015 Husqvarna 701 is a 690cc supermoto, that continues to borrow from KTM’s common parts bin. Already with a race-ready 450cc supermoto in its arsenal, the Husqvarna 701 adds another more street-oriented motorcycle to the Swedish brand’s dirt-heavy 2015 lineup. Putting down 67hp through the big four-stroke thumper, the Husqvarna 701 supermoto tips the scales at 320 lbs (145kg), and comes with an APTC slipper clutch, ABS brakes, WP suspension, and ride-by-wire with different riding modes.

MotoGP TV Ratings Continue to Drop Without Rossi

06/28/2010 @ 5:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MotoGP TV Ratings Continue to Drop Without Rossi broken television1 560x373

TV ratings for the Dutch TT at Assen are in for the Italian TV market (one of the largest markets for MotoGP), and once again they show a decline in MotoGP’s allure without Valentino Rossi. With 2,579,000 viewers, making up 16.79% of the total television audience, MotoGP in Holland attracted only half the audience from last year’s event (5,249,000 viewers, 31.69% of the total television audience). With a similar trend in 125GP and Moto2, some in the Italian press are calling for Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta’s resignation, as these ratings are surely a sign of the sport’s demise.

Hungarian GP in Limbo After Bank Pulls Funds

03/15/2010 @ 6:03 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Hungarian GP in Limbo After Bank Pulls Funds Balatonring flag track 560x420

Loris Capirossi seemed destined to owe Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta a steak dinner after the Balatonring supposedly secured funding from the Hungarian Development Bank. That bad fortune (for Hungarian MotoGP fans, not for Capirex) seems to have changed however as the loan has now been refused by the Hungarian bank, which leaves the Hungarian circuit a big question mark for the 2010 MotoGP calendar as it struggles to raise the needed $80 million. Story gets worse after the jump.

Capirossi on His Way to Losing a Bet with Ezpeleta

01/27/2010 @ 4:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Capirossi on His Way to Losing a Bet with Ezpeleta Capirossi steak dinner 560x559

For over a year the Balatonring has struggled to get to completion and be included in the MotoGP racing schedule. With the economic collapse last year, the Hungarian track failed to be completed on time to make its 2009 debut; and with the collapse in the real estate market, there was some doubt if the track would be completed at all.

Yet despite this Dorna remained faithful and thought it fit to place the track on the 2010 calendar. Upon its inspection in October 2009 by the MotoGP Rider’s Safety Commission, Loris Capirossi bet Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta that the track wouldn’t be ready in time for the 2010 season. With a steak dinner on the line, Capirex should be seriously considering a stop by the butchery with the latest news.

MotoGP: 1000cc Formula for 2012 – 81mm Bore

12/11/2009 @ 10:32 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

MotoGP: 1000cc Formula for 2012   81mm Bore cylinder bore 635x478

The Grand Prix Commission met today, and came to a resolution on what direction the MotoGP series would take in the coming years. As expected the committee members agreed to a 1000cc format for the 2012 season, and finally revealed some of the details of that switch, such as a maximum of four cylinders allowed in the race motorcycles, and a bore size that can be no larger than 81mm. The announcement was devoid of any further details about “production motors“. More after the jump.

Ezpeleta on 1000cc Engine Switch in MotoGP: “Production Engines” Won’t be in the Rule Book

12/08/2009 @ 5:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Ezpeleta on 1000cc Engine Switch in MotoGP: Production Engines Wont be in the Rule Book Jorge Lorenzo podium jump 560x400

There’s be some trouble brewing in the MotoGP/WSBK camp after news hit that MotoGP would be switching back to a 1000cc format by the 2012 season. In that story, several possibilities on how that format would work were put forth by various sides, one such proposal being the running of production based motors in MotoGP.

These motors, which would be based off those found on streetbikes, could be tuned to any degree, provided it met the criteria in the MotoGP rule book (1000cc & four-cylinders are the only regulations agreed upon currently). This news of course drew the ire of World Superbike promoter, Infront Motor Sports, in the form of Paolo Flammini, who believes that format would infringe on his license to exclusively run a production based race series.

Refusing at first to define what a production engine is, Dorna’s Carmelo Ezpeleta is now switching gears and saying the term “production engine” won’t even appear in the new MotoGP racing regulations.

MotoGP Returns to 1000cc Format, Drops 800cc

11/07/2009 @ 5:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoGP Returns to 1000cc Format, Drops 800cc motogp catalonia catalunya barcelona catalan spain 560x350

MotoMatters is now confirming that as early as 2012 we will see MotoGP racing back in the liter-bike category. Never popular with the manufacturers, the 800cc rule change not only cost teams in added development costs, but also never brought the promised the safety and closer racing that is was supposed to offer. For the moment it appears MotoGP will remain a prototype class, with there being no discussion of a production motor being used (like in Moto2), at least at this time.

MotoGP to Return to 990cc Formula?

11/06/2009 @ 5:12 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MotoGP to Return to 990cc Formula? Honda RC211V MotoGP 990cc 560x415

When MotoGP switched from the 990cc displacement format to the 800cc formula, it was done so on the idea that it would make the premiere racing class safer for the riders. This proved to not be the case, as the 800cc bikes clearly carried more corner speed through turns, and were still able to approach 990cc top speeds on the straight-aways.

The result, a racing class that was more dangerous and more expensive for manufacturers.With this in mind, Dorna Boss, Carmeloa Ezpeleta, wants to return the series back its previous 990cc format, by as early as 2011.

MotoGP Riders Bet Dorna the That Balatonring Won’t Be Ready for 2010 MotoGP Season

10/31/2009 @ 4:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

MotoGP Riders Bet Dorna the That Balatonring Wont Be Ready for 2010 MotoGP Season Balatonring Hungary MotoGP logo 560x420

Dorna and the MotoGP rider’s Safety Commission met in Sepang this past Friday before the Malaysian GP to talk about the upcoming 2010 season, and in particular the addition of the Hungarian Balatonring to the schedule. While Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta believes the track will be completed on-time for its MotoGP debute, Satefy Comission Founding Member, Loris Capirossi, disagrees. Putting his money where his mouth is, Capirossi has bet Ezpeleta on the Hungarian tracks completion.

Aspar Ducati Satellite Team Official – No Bautista Yet

08/01/2009 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Aspar Ducati Satellite Team Official   No Bautista Yet Alvaro Bautista 250GP 560x401

You may remember that we reported earlier in July that Jorge “Aspar” Martinez was closing-in on realizing his dream of racing in the MotoGP series. Well, that day is finally upon us now. While at Donington Park this past weekend, Aspar announced that a deal with Ducati had indeed been reached.

The Spanish team principle will run a satellite Ducati team with a solitary bike, however a rider has yet to be determined. Alvaro Bautista, the most logical choice to pilot Aspar’s Ducati, has said that within the next few weeks he will make a decisions as to whether he will join MotoGP. Should he decide to move up to the premiere class, you can bet that he will land on the Spanish team.

Carmelo Ezpeleta Wanted Dead or Alive

07/18/2009 @ 5:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Carmelo Ezpeleta Wanted Dead or Alive Carmelo Espeleto wanted dead or alive 382x560Take a walk around the MotoGP paddock at the Sachsenring this weekend, and you might see some interesting posters being hung up through out the race track.

Wanted dead or alive is Carmelo Ezpeleta, Dorna Sports CEO, for his crimes against the 250cc class. Someone has put up as a joke (we hope) a $1,000,000 bounty on the race promoter’s head, with a caption that reads, “Wanted for crimes against the 250 cc bikes. He is a 2-stroke killer. Outlaw is known to be extremely dangerous and should be approached with caution.”

The poster is an obvious reference to Dorna’s demise of the 250GP class, in favor of the upcoming Moto2 class, which will replace the 2-stroke 250cc bikes, with 4-stroke 600cc prototypes.

Ezpeleta has been responsible for a number of changes in premiere motorcycle racing, starting with Moto2, which will launch at the beginning of the 2010 season, and serve as a feeder into the MotoGP series. Additionally, any rider coming into MotoGP, including from Moto2, will have to first start in a MotoGP satellite team, with some exceptions.

It’s only rumor right now, but expect the bounty to be increased if plans to replace the 125GP class are put into motion.

Source: GPone via Two Wheels Blog