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.

Hopkins to Wildcard in World Superbikes at Silverstone

03/03/2011 @ 8:59 am, by Victoria Reid9 COMMENTS

Hopkins to Wildcard in World Superbikes at Silverstone samsung crescent suzuki gsxr1000 635x448

Despite newly announced title sponsor Samsung, British Superbike squad Crescent Racing will not enter John Hopkins as a wildcard entry for the Donington Park round of World Superbike racing as previously expected. Instead, both the American rider and his new teammate, reigning BST Champion Jon Kirkham, will be entered for the British WSBK round at Silverstone later in the season.

Originally, the team had announced that Hopkins would race at Donington, but with a rider new to the team testing today at Cartagena, it seems as though Crescent Suzuki has decided to wait to join the WSBK fray. They will continue their testing March 8th at Guadix, Spain in advance of the BSB opener at Brands Hatch on April 25th.

Donington Park Green Lit by the FIM for WSBK this Month

03/02/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Victoria ReidComments Off

Donington Park Green Lit by the FIM for WSBK this Month Donington Park 635x423

Donington Park has passed the final FIM safety checks, and been fully approved to host the second round of the World Superbike Championship at the end of this month, the first time the circuit has held a major event since 2009. The  inspection occurred while much of the racing press watched the season-opening races at Phillip Island, though Donington has been part of the official WSBK calendar since late last year.

The fame British track has been embroiled in a bit of drama over the past two years, having been taken over by Simon Gillett and partners, who hoped Donington would take the place of Silverstone as the British Grand Prix on the Formula1 calendar. When Gillett’s company fell apart, as did the F1 venture, Donington was left with its extensive redevelopment only partially completed. Kevin Wheatcroft stepped in as chairman to restore the shambles his father’s circuit had been left in, and worked to gain Britain its second WSBK race of the season, with the traditional round held at Silverstone in July.

World Superbike Riders Forming Safety Commission

02/25/2011 @ 10:13 am, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

World Superbike Riders Forming Safety Commission Max Neukirchner Miller Motorsports Park Dan Lo 635x423

World Superbike riders have begun establishing a safety commission to have a stronger voice in providing safer conditions for racers in the series. Though other top-tier racing series have long had a body specifically to promote the safety of riders and drivers, it seems that the timing of the race at Donington Park this season has moved the riders to join forces. They met first during the official test in Portimao a month ago and met again this week during the testing at Phillip Island.

Official: Hopper to British Superbikes

01/19/2011 @ 9:37 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Official: Hopper to British Superbikes john hopkins bsb1 635x423

Truly official now, John Hopkins has signed-on with the Crescent Suzuki British Superbike team for the 2011 season. Hopper’s first duty on the BSB team will be to test at the upcoming sessions at the Spanish tracks of Cartagena and Guadix. Crescent Suzuki also says that Hopkins will ride as a wildcard entry at the World Superbike round at Donington Park in March, which precedes the season BSB opener at Brands Hatch in April.

“I am really looking forward to BSB and working with Crescent again, it will obviously be a different crew but I know they are a great group of guys and that will be a good foundation to start the season. It is going to be a huge challenge for me, I know there are new tracks to learn, but I am not too concerned,” said Hopkins

Donington Park Returns to the 2011 WSBK Calendar

11/16/2010 @ 12:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Donington Park Returns to the 2011 WSBK Calendar Donington Park track map 635x448

Good news for British motorcycle racing fans, as Donington Park has secured a spot on the 2011 World Superbike calendar. But the real good news for the Brits is that WSBK will come to both Donington and Silverstone next year, giving the sometimes rainy island a double-helping of production-based international motorcycle racing.

The announcement signals the rescue of the British track from what seemed like certain death, after planned renovations fell through and the track was unable to secure a Formula 1 bid, leaving the Donington Park leasees without a dime to spend, and without a track circuit to run (construction had begun to make the track conform to Formula 1 standards).

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.

MotoGP: Donington Park Does Not Go Gently into the Night – Brings Surprise Finishes & Crashes

07/26/2009 @ 3:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

MotoGP: Donington Park Does Not Go Gently into the Night   Brings Surprise Finishes & Crashes Ducatisi Donington Park MotoGP1 560x401

MotoGP was in Donington Park this weekend for the British GP, and what will be the MotoGP Championship’s last stop at the Midlands track for the foreseeable future. Donington proved that not only would this be a finale GP, but also a memorable one. Weather forecasts for the day proved to be accurate with drizzles occurring during racing. Teams gambled on tires, and early ride reports indicated that the British track was very slippery when wet (shocking, we know). The end result was crashes, cold tires, and a podium line-up we’re guessing no one expected. Bangers and mash anyone?

MotoGP: Close Qualifying at Donington Park

07/25/2009 @ 4:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Close Qualifying at Donington Park James Toseland Donington Park MotoGP 560x390

With this being MotoGP’s last stop at Donington for the foreseeable future, the British venue seems to be putting its best foot forward. Agreeable weather, rabid fans, and close qualifying makes Sunday’s race and send off that much more enjoyable. It won’t be all clear skies though, Sunday’s weather forecast is showing some rain, and undoubtedly riders are practicing their bike swapping out in their minds.

The 4 Million Dollar Ducati Track Day

07/01/2009 @ 7:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

The 4 Million Dollar Ducati Track Day ducati desmosedici rr 560x420

Donington Park recently played host to 45 Ducati Desmosedici RR owners, as they spent an exclusive track day courtesy of Ducati UK. The video of the bikes starting their session is after the jump, but we’re trying to decide what’s more impressive: the sound the bikes make as they leave, or the fact there’s nearly $4 million of machinery going by without an umbrella girl in sight.

WSBK: Race 2 at Donington Park Ends with a Nearly Fractured Vertebrae

06/28/2009 @ 6:31 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

WSBK: Race 2 at Donington Park Ends with a Nearly Fractured Vertebrae Ben Spies WSBK Race 2 Donington Park 560x332

If the close racing of Race 1 wasn’t enough drama for the fans at Donington Park, Race 2 provided it in full. Another breakaway start, and a couple key crashes, lead to a shake up in the finishing results, and one rider was rushed off to the hospital for a suspected fractured vertabrae that might change the course of the season. Continue reading for spoilers.