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.

Dorna Eyeing a North American Championship?

06/23/2014 @ 2:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler54 COMMENTS

Dorna Eyeing a North American Championship? spanish inquisition 635x425

The discourse in AMA paddock is palpable. From 2013’s surprise revelation that AMA Pro Road Racing’s TV package would not cover all the events, to 2014’s complete lack of television coverage, there have been serious questions raised about DMG’s ability to market the premier road racing series in the United States.

A constantly dwindling calendar of events has caused many to wonder about DMG’s ability to organize race weekends, as this year’s provisional five-event calendar was marked with the absence of any races west of The Rockies (the motorcycle industry’s sweet spot), a move that would cause John Ulrich of Roadracing World to start his own three-event “Superbike Shootout” series (Laguna Seca would later be added to the AMA calendar as a sixth event).

This year was also marked by an exodus of top-level teams (Michael Jordan Motorsports and Erik Buell Racing), as well as marquee sponsors (The Army National Guard and GEICO).

Just recently torrential rain, a field of Superbikes on slicks, and not a red flag in sight caused a dust-up just a few weeks ago at Road America, resulting in a modest investment in publication ink regarding the officiating at AMA Pro Road Racing events, especially in regards to rider safety.

American road racing has long been in decline, but never before has the frustration with the series been so evident across the series’ stakeholders of riders, teams, sponsors, fans, and journalists. The malcontent is evident whenever the subject is broached.

No one can say for certain what form American road racing will take for the 2015 season, but things do not seem to be taking a positive direction with DMG’s ownership of AMA Pro Racing.

American road racing is in serious danger of fracturing if the Superbike Shootout continues, and it could legitimately collapse altogether if DMG continues operating the way it has to date. As if that wasn’t enough, a third option is waiting in the wings: Dorna.

MotoGP: BT Sport Gets UK Broadcast Rights for 2014-2018

05/09/2013 @ 9:39 am, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

MotoGP: BT Sport Gets UK Broadcast Rights for 2014 2018 radio telescope moon mercury venus 635x439

Dorna Sports issued the following press release on the acquisition of the broadcast rights for MotoGP in the United Kingdom for the next five years. More information and full commentary will be released soon, but there are a few key details which are already known.

Firstly, for details on how to receive BT Sport, see the BT Sport website. Secondly, although the commentary team is as yet unknown, the names of Julian Ryder and Keith Huewen are circulating, though this could of course be wishful thinking.

Thirdly, it seems almost certain that British Eurosport will no longer provided delayed broadcast of the MotoGP races, as that deal was tied up with the BBC contract. After the jump is the press release from Dorna:

MotoGP And World Superbike To Be “Brought Together”

10/02/2012 @ 11:26 am, by David Emmett26 COMMENTS

MotoGP And World Superbike To Be Brought Together Friday Misano San Marino GP MotoGP Scott Jones08

Bridgepoint has announced today that it has brought MotoGP and World Superbike, the two motorcycle racing series it owns, under a single umbrella organization. The reorganization will see Dorna Sports become the parent organization for both series, though Infront will operate as an independent entity and continue to organize World Superbike under its own banner. Infront has also been named as “marketing advisor and global advisor” for both MotoGP and WSBK.

The implications of this announcement are huge, but not immediately clear. The logic behind the move is impeccable: the two series are spending too much of their time competing against each other instead of working together to promote the sport of motorcycle racing. By combining their marketing efforts, the hope is that both series will be made stronger.

Dorna Sports Declared “Best Spanish Business”…in Italy

12/03/2010 @ 5:15 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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File this one under stuff we couldn’t make up if we tried (although the fake press release would be awesome). Dorna Sports, media rights holder to our one and only MotoGP World Championship racing series, has been declared the “Best Spanish Business”…in Italy…by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce…in Italy…yeah it just got that weird.

Apparently the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, which operates in Italy and helps facilitate business operations between the two countries, has made it a habit to recognize Spanish businesses that have a substantial amount of their business in Italy, and promote the economies of both countries, which is great, if not slightly strange.

Kawasaki Secretly Signed on as Sole Motor Provider for Moto2?

04/17/2009 @ 4:03 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Kawasaki Secretly Signed on as Sole Motor Provider for Moto2? bqr honda moto2 bike 1 560x420

Visordown is reporting that they have a source who has uncovered an unofficial report that Kawasaki has been chosen as the sole motor supplier for the new Moto2 race series. The source goes on to allege that a deal has already been signed for Kawasaki to supply the one-make motors for the class, despite Dorna’s claims that the contract is still open for tender. Apparently, the deal has been done on down-low in order to keep Kawasaki involved in the MotoGP racing series.

 

Melandri And Kawasaki to Field Single Bike Campaign?

02/14/2009 @ 7:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Melandri And Kawasaki to Field Single Bike Campaign? marco melandri kawasaki wallpaper 271008 h 560x373

According to both Tuttosport and Sportmediaset (both members of the overly-excitable and sometime unreliable Italian press), Marco Melandri will be riding a privately run Kawasaki for 2009. In a deal brockered by Carmelo Ezpeleta, the team will be led by Michael Bartholemy. Details are somewhere between sketchy and nonexistent, but it seems that Kawasaki will make all of the 2009-spec bikes available to Bartholemy, who will field a single rider, Marco Melandri.

Shortly after the news broke that Kawasaki would be withdrawing from MotoGP, the factory said that it had enough bikes and parts to last approximately a quarter of a season, and so presumably, this would be enough to run a single rider for at least half the season, or perhaps a little longer if the practice restrictions are pushed through as expected.

Finance for the project will most likely come from Dorna who want to avoid breaching their own contract with the FIM to field at least 18 riders for a world championship, with Kawasaki possibly kicking in some seed money since they don’t want to breach their contract with Dorna. Melandri would presumably be riding the 2009-spec bikes tested by Olivier Jacque in Australia during January, despite reports of poor reliability. 

Source: MotoGP Matters

Bridgestone Signs 3 Year Agreement as Single MotoGP Tire Supplier

01/26/2009 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Bridgestone Signs 3 Year Agreement as Single MotoGP Tire Supplier 229733 bridgestoneklausnohlesandhiroshiyamada 1280x960 aug29 original 560x420

Bridgestone has finally signed the agreement with Dorna Sports making it the only tire supplier for MotoGP for the next three seasons. Last season saw for Michelin dwindle as Bridgestone became the favorite shoe in the paddock, so much so that Dani Pedrosa jumped ship mid-season, leaving teammate Nicky Hayden behind who was not given the same option to switch to Bridgestone. The agreement comes about as Dorna tries to further reduce cost and make closer wheel-to-wheel racing. Continue reading for more.

 

Ezpeleta Holds Kawasaki to 2009, But Not 2010 and 2011

01/14/2009 @ 11:10 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

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Really, we’re trying to think of a way that the 2009 MotoGP season could become less of a soap opera, but it continues to act like one. Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, has shed some more light on the back-and-forth between his organization and Kawasaki.

“I’ve already said that I would not accept the breakdown of Kawasaki’s contract signed with us until 2011. I have proposed that they run in 2009, and in exchange, to allow them to withdraw in 2010 and 2011. They told me that they had an engine for only four or five races of the season. So I looked for a company in France able to help develop the bike. The last obstacle for the Japanese is to meet these people and accept their program.” 

This meeting is scheduled for early next week, and Ezpeleta is pushing for Kawasaki to honor its contract with its riders as well as Dorna, “The team will be led by Michael Bartholemy, and I think it is important to keep the two pilots under contract, John Hopkins and Marco Melandri.” Ezpeleta finished by reiterating that he would take Kawasaki to court if it defaulted on their commitment with Dorna Sports.

How Much Does it Cost to Race in MotoGP?

01/13/2009 @ 2:30 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

How Much Does it Cost to Race in MotoGP? piggy bank 635x512

MotoGP is a special animal. Like how Formula 1 is for automobiles, MotoGP is supposed to embody what the cutting edge of technology can bring to the sport of motorcycling. The talent is the pinnacle of its field, and the bikes are rolling R&D platforms.

This also means of course that the costs are exuberant, and instead of an instant applicable payoffs, the value of racing instead comes down the road many years later as the technology trickles down to the production-level bikes.

This makes MotoGP unlike the racing other series, whereas in World Superbike for instance, teams are working with a bike that is actually sold en masse to the consumer, costs for product line development can be absorbed, and the fabled “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” marketing buzz phrase has some bearing on reality.

Because of the intangible returns on investments, and escalating environment of prototype racing, it is not surprising to see the semi-departure of Kawasaki for 2009. So how much money are teams really losing by racing at the top of the sport?

FIM Worries About MotoGP Grid for 2010 and Long-term Sustainability in the Racing Series

01/12/2009 @ 8:58 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

FIM Worries About MotoGP Grid for 2010 and Long term Sustainability in the Racing Series 800px fim logo1 560x308

The International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) started MotoGP in 1949 with the idea to establish a premiere prototype racing series. In 1992, FIM transfered the commercial rights to Dorna Sports, who have since been the business end of the racing series. This however, does not mean that the FIM is content to standby idly while the economic brouhaha plays havoc with MotoGP’s championship status. Continue reading to see FIM President Vito Ippolito response, and outlook on the future of MotoGP.