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.

Dakar Rally – Stage 2: Wrong Turn Costs Despres 8 Minutes

01/06/2013 @ 4:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Dakar Rally – Stage 2: Wrong Turn Costs Despres 8 Minutes cyril despres ktm dakar rally 635x423

Sunday marks the second day of the Dakar Rally, and the first real day of racing. Despite completing only two stages thus far of the 2013 Dakar Rally, the racing has gotten interesting, as race-win favorite Cyril Despres has lost eight minutes to the overall leader, Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda.

Fifth fastest overall thus far, Despres’s lost time was due to navigating around a massive dune, a move that caught several other riders out as well. With Monday’s Stage Three expected to be an even more difficult day, Despres said he was happy to start from behind, and let the other riders tackle the course ahead of him, where he could learn from their mistakes.

The Dakar Rally has been settled by less than the eight minute gap that Despres currently faces, though the Frenchman’s navigational error would have been more critical if rival and teammate Marc Coma was entered in the race this year, instead of sidelined with injury.

Video: Cyril Despres Talks Dakar

11/27/2012 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Video: Cyril Despres Talks Dakar 2013 KTM Rally Team 06 635x423

Carrying the #1 plate this year, Cyril Despres is one of the winningest motorcycle racers in the Dakar Rally’s history, having won the rally four times now (fellow Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel is the outright winningest motorcycle racer at Dakar, with six career wins).

Looking for his fifth win in 2013, the KTM rider has stiff competition, namely in the form of his teammate Marc Coma, who has won Dakar three times in his career. Separated by only seconds after thousands of miles of racing, the 2013 Dakar Rally is expected to be just as close between the two factory KTM riders.

With only a few more weeks until the green flag drops in Peru, we have already seen the official unveiling of the 2012 KTM Rally team, and now title sponsor Red Bull is doing its pre-game promotions as well, with a short video that features the Frenchman Despres. Visually stunning, here is a good five-minute distraction from your cubicle drone routine.

Photos: 2013 KTM Rally Team

11/26/2012 @ 5:26 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Photos: 2013 KTM Rally Team 2013 KTM Rally Team 05 635x423

Gearing up for the Dakar Rally, and the start of the adventure rally season, KTM has debuted its 2013 rally team with Cyril Despres, Marc Coma, and Ruben Faria. Riding the KTM 450 Rally race bike, the three KTM riders are tipped to be the favorites at the 2013 Dakar Rally, with Despres looking for his fifth win, while Coma races for his fourth victory against his teammate and rival.

The Dakar will once again be held in South America, making 2013 the fifth time that the race has been held outside of its namesake territory. A bit of branding yoga, the famous adventure race has been right at home in the varied terrains of Peru, Argentina, and Chilé, and for 2013, the Dakar will visit those countries in that order. New to the Dakar, Honda’s factory team will be on the roster, as well factory teams from Husqvarna and Aprilia.

Because we know how much you enjoy them, high-resolution photos of the factory KTM riders doing their thing, after the jump (HD display owners will also note that A&R has gone “retina” with our post images, woot).

Sorry for Partying: Cyril Despres Faces Fines for KTM Video

01/31/2012 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Sorry for Partying: Cyril Despres Faces Fines for KTM Video KTM Freeride 350 video

We published some KTM Freeride videos a few months back as an example of what great motorcycle video promotion looks like. When it comes to producing outstanding promotional clips and photos, the Austrian manufacturer’s creative arms easily wrestle down consistently choice material…however their paperwork apparently leaves a little to be desired.

According to reports, KTM failed to let city officials know that it would be riding around in the Andorran Pyrenees, and subsequently did not receive the necessary permits to make its two-wheeled goodness. Because of this oversight, KTM rider and Andorran resident Cyril Despres (along with cohort Cédric Gracia) to face some fines for their galavanting. Despres and Gracia could be levied €50 to €500, which isn’t exactly going to break the bank.

Cyril Despres Wins Fourth Dakar Rally Title

01/16/2012 @ 1:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Cyril Despres Wins Fourth Dakar Rally Title Cyril Despres KTM Dakar Rally 2012 44 635x422

After battling with KTM teammate Marc Coma for the entire duration of the 2012 Dakar Rally, Cyril Despres bested the Catalan rider on the final stage, and claimed his fourth Dakar title. Despres won only four stages of the Rally (compared to Coma’s five stages), but the Frenchman was able to cling to his overall lead, despite finishing behind Coma on the last stage. With The Dakar concluding in Lima for the first time in history, Despres’ triumph brought KTM its eleventh consecutive Dakar win. After a critical time penalty was levied against Marc Coma, Cyril Despres won the rally with a 53 minute margin, though the racing was decidedly closer than that number implies.

Sunday’s final stage was only 23km long (14.29 miles) and largely ceremonial, with Saturday’s penultimate round truly deciding who would win the 2012 Dakar Rally. With only several minutes of time separating the two riders as they entered the last true round of racing, Coma unfortunately damaged his gearbox after a big jump. Getting lost in the process, Coma was able to nurse his KTM back through the stage, though he had a 45 minute time penalty levied upon him for swapping-in his third motor, which cost the Catalan his chance of a fourth Dakar win, and allowed Despres to coast to victory during Sunday’s final round.

How Do You Get Halfway Through The Dakar?

01/12/2012 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

How Do You Get Halfway Through The Dakar? Marc Coma KTM MRW Dakar Rally resouce infographic 635x449

The Dakar Rally might be one of the most grueling things you can do on two wheels, and for motorcyclists, it embodies the ultimate expression of adventure motorcycling. As if traversing thousands of miles while going full-tilt wasn’t hard enough, a proper Dakar Rally bid requires an enormous amount of resources to undertake. Crossing the halfway point this week, Marc Coma’s team released a nice infographic explaining the various resources the team has used in getting only half of the way through the rally.

With three more days of hard riding, Coma currently sits two minutes and twenty-two seconds behind his rival and fellow KTM rider Cyril Despres (the Frenchman explains his riding style in a video found after the jump). The KTM duo is now in the home-strech of the rally, and will be battling down to the wire for each rider’s fourth Dakar victory. Speaking after today’s stage, Coma is not optimistic about his abilities to catch Despres, but wisely warns that anything can happen during The Dakar.

Marc Coma Edges Out Despres for His 3rd Dakar Rally – Brings Home KTM’s 10th Consecutive Dakar Victory

01/16/2011 @ 5:55 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Marc Coma Edges Out Despres for His 3rd Dakar Rally   Brings Home KTMs 10th Consecutive Dakar Victory Marc Coma wins Dakar Rally 20111 635x421

Because KTM employs some of the best adventure racers in the world, there was little debate that the Austrian manufacturer would win its 10th consecutive Dakar Rally, on this the 33rd running of the race. However which of KTM’s top riders, Coma or Despres, would take the checkered flag this weekend at Buenos Aires was a question of some contention among adventure racing fans, as going into the latter stages of the event, it was either rider’s race to win.

That debate can finally come to a conclusion thought, as after racing over more than 3,000 miles on one of the most grueling Dakars to-date, Spaniard Marc Coma edged out Frenchman Cyril Despres for the overall rally win by a mere 15 minutes, which included a 10 minute penalty that Despres incurred earlier in the racing week. Photos, results, and more after the jump.

Dakar Stage 5: Race Officials Give Marc Coma Time Back After Stopping for Injured Rider

01/07/2011 @ 5:45 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Dakar Stage 5: Race Officials Give Marc Coma Time Back After Stopping for Injured Rider Marc Coma river crossing KTM 2011 Dakar Rally 635x410

To call the Dakar dangerous is probably an understatement, as the rally has been fraught with stories of peril from its very inception. Often alone in some of the most remote terrain in the world, riders rely primarily on themselves for their safety, but the sport is marked with moments where participants put aside competition to help each other.

Stage 5 of the 2011 Dakar Rally had one of those stories yesterday, as KTM rider, and overall race leader Marc Coma found himself as the first person to come across an unconscious Olivier Pain on the race course. Coma, who himself had sustained a fall earlier in the day, stopped at Pain’s crash site and activated the unconscious rider’s emergency beacon. Coma stayed with with the fallen rider until his water carrier, Joan Pedrero, arrived on the scene.

Cyril Despres Wins 2010 Dakar Rally – Aprilia’s Francisco Lopez Finishes 3rd – Marc Coma 18th

01/18/2010 @ 7:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Cyril Despres Wins 2010 Dakar Rally   Aprilias Francisco Lopez Finishes 3rd   Marc Coma 18th Dakar Rally 2010 KTM 2 635x356

It doesn’t seem to matter where the Dakar Rally is located, or what restrictions race officials place on the motorcycle class, KTM continues its dominance of motorcycling’s most grueling and infamous race. After battling with Marc Coma and Aprilia’s Chilean secret weapon Francisco Lopez for stage wins and overall supremacy, Despres took his third Dakar victory, and continued a KTM tradition.

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