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.

Valentino Rossi to Test New Aluminum Frame at Jerez

09/21/2011 @ 8:57 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi to Test New Aluminum Frame at Jerez Valentino Rossi Ducati Corse test 635x423

According to both GPone and MCN, Valentino Rossi and Ducati Corse will test a new aluminum frame at Jerez this week. Though the two MotoGP authorities differ on what sot of frame exactly will be used during the test (MCN says twin-spar, while GPone maintains an “open cradle” frame that leaves the motor still as a stressed object). Regardless of the style, the new chassis is reportedly made by FTR, and is another attempt by the Italian racing team to figure out how to solve the vague front-end feeling coming from the Ducati Desmosedici GP11/GP11.1/GP12.

Possibly similar to the chassis style used by Honda and Yamaha, this new frame design marks the fourth major chassis change this year for Ducati. Unable to compete against the top pack on the grid, Rossi has lately even struggled to keep up with his fellow Ducati riders come race day. While technically considered a test for the 2012 season and on the GP12 motorcycle, the results from the Jerez test (Ducati’s seventh test of an allowed eight) could easily find its way onto this season’s Desmosedici.

Rossi Gets Deliciously Cryptic after GP12 Test at Mugello

09/08/2011 @ 8:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Rossi Gets Deliciously Cryptic after GP12 Test at Mugello Valentino Rossi Misano Helmet 635x422

After the secrecy concerning Ducati Corse’s test of the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 at Mugello this week, we were surprised to see that the Italian racing team even bothered to submit a press release for the event, which saw both Franco Battaini and Valentino Rossi take laps on a new version of the GP12. Speculated to have an aluminum twin-spar chassis (courtesy of FTR), the photos from the event do suggest a change in the chassis design, though what is actually under the fairings will be debated heavily over the rest of the week.

Making no mention of an aluminum chassis, improved front-end feel, or improved lap times, the statements (press release after the jump) from Ducati Corse and Valentino Rossi are incredibly vague, though perhaps they leave some interesting things to be read between the lines.

The fact that Rossi tersely described the test results without mentioning any improvements to the Desmosedici’s front-end is an interesting point to consider, especially after the nine-time World Champion had a crash on his third lap, binning the GP12 in the exit of the Scarperia-Palagio section of the Mugello track.

Considering that the feel from the GP11/11.1 has been the center-point throughout the 2011 season, we would have expected some indication on how the “good fight” was been waged in the Corse camp. Though spartan in  his words, one can discern some meaty notions from what Rossi didn’t say in his statement after riding 82 laps on the new GP12. Check the press release out after the jump, and leave your conclusions in the comments.

Ducati Desmosedici GP12 “EVO” Testing at Mugello

09/08/2011 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler25 COMMENTS

Ducati Desmosedici GP12 EVO Testing at Mugello Ducati Desmosedici GP12 EVO Mugello 1 635x373

Testing at Mugello today and tomorrow, Ducati has very discretely (like that could actually happen) begun testing its Desmosedici GP12 “EVO” – a modified version of the GP12 that features an aluminum frame made by FTR. Replacing Ducati’s innovative carbon fiber “frameless” chassis, the twin-spar aluminum frame is an attempt by the Italian factory to bring more front-end feel to its riders (read David Emmett’s analysis of the Desmosedici’s troubles here). Testing today with Franco Battaini, we get these first photos of the Desmosedici GP12 “EVO” (or is it GP12.1?) testing at the Italian track.

Photo: 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199’s Headlights

06/27/2011 @ 3:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Photo: 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199s Headlights 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 motociclismo

Motociclismo.it continues to be Ducati’s favorite channel to leak teasers of its upcoming Superbike, the 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199. Promising to be a revolutionary design for the Italian brand, we know already that the bike will shed roughly 20 lbs from the 1198 model, while adding 20hp to its peak horsepower figure. This astonishing power increase comes from the “Superquadrata” v-twin motor, which features an overly-square cylinder design, that should rev to peaky power delivery delight (if you’re into that sort of thing).

From this latest photo we see that the new 1199 (we’ve been enjoying the rumors that the new Superbike would be called the Xtreme) borrows from the 916’s squinty highlight design, while adding the 1098/1198’s more pronounced air intake structure. The Ducati Superbike 1199 will be fed that healthy dose of oxygen through a stressed aluminum airbox/headtube design, à la its MotoGP frameless technology, and for which we’ve already seen patents of the design.

MotoGP: Ducati Racing with 2012 Chassis Starting at Assen

06/20/2011 @ 6:38 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Ducati Racing with 2012 Chassis Starting at Assen Valentino Rossi GP12 Development 635x511

Ducati Corse continues to battle a war on two-fronts: both by trying to market itself out of an otherwise disastorous MotoGP season, and also to rapidly develop and search for answers to the lackluster Ducati Desmosedici GP11. The latest news out of Bologna now leans more towards this latter effort (or is it the prior?), as Ducati Corse has announced that it will bring a version of its 2012 chassis to Assen for Valentino Rossi to use in the Dutch TT.

The Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1, as they’re calling it, features a modified motor, and will debut Ducati’s next-generation gearbox: the Ducati Seamless Transmission (DST). Ducati hopes bringing out the new chassis, which has already been given the nod by both Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden, will not only help turn around the season’s results, but also expedite development for the Ducati Desmosedici GP12. Along with a new carbon chassis, the GP11.1 features an inverted swingarm design, which sees the rear shock mounted higher-up with a special rear-subframe assembly.

Rossi Tests the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 at Mugello

05/26/2011 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Rossi Tests the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 at Mugello Valentino Rossi Ducati Corse GP12 Mugello test 1 635x434

Under normal circumstances, Valentino Rossi testing the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 at the Mugello circuit would be a big deal on the interwebs. But today with the combination of a “been there, done that” effect that setting in around the GP12, and the news that the new 2012 Ducati “Superquadrata” Superbike is also being tested at the fabled Italian track, Rossi’s latest outing on the 1,000cc class bike is taking a backseat. That’s not say we don’t want to show The Doctor some love, as Ducati Corse has eight more photos showing off details of the GP12.

Though not a big technical detail, one of the new things we spotted from the photos was the gravel guard on the exhaust pipe near the right foot, which matches the guard we’re accustomed to seeing on the GP11’s tail. The big question regarding the GP12 though is its cylinder dimensions, with Nicky Hayden recently quoted as saying he could talk about anything regarding the GP12, except its motor displacement. Interesting, no? Photos after the jump.

First Shots: Nicky Hayden on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12

04/09/2011 @ 11:17 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

First Shots: Nicky Hayden on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Nicky Hayden Ducati Desmosedici GP12 635x414

To considerably less fanfare, Nicky Hayden took the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 today at Jerez, which for MotoGP fans means more photos of Ducati’s 1,000cc class prototype motorcycle. Ducati didn’t make a video of Nicky’s adventures on the GP12, but the race team got some valuable input from the American racer, who put in 61 laps for Ducati Corse once the circuit dried from high humidity. “When I woke up this morning, the sky was really gray and the track was completely wet,” said Nicky Hayden. “I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t think we’d be able to do anything because it wouldn’t have made sense to waste a day testing in those conditions.”

“The situation got better and better though, and after lunch, I was able to put on my leathers. I couldn’t wait to ride, and it was worth the wait. It’s an honor to be able to participate in the first track test of the GP12 because it doesn’t happen very often that you get to ride a bike on the track for the first time: it’s a special feeling. Everything went well, and we didn’t have a single problem: the motor is really nice to use, and I had a lot of fun riding the bike. I hope I gave some useful feedback to Filippo and the boys. I know they’ll be working on this bike while we go back to focusing on the next race, because this season just started.”

First Shots: Rossi Rides the Ducati Desmosedici GP12

04/08/2011 @ 11:09 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

First Shots: Rossi Rides the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 valentino ross ducati desmosedici gp12 4 635x423

Under some sunny and warm skies at Jerez, Valentino Rossi got to meet the Desmosedici GP12 for the first time today. In total Rossi slagged the GP12 across the Andalusian circuit for a total of 50 laps saying, and was seemingly pleased the the new machine.

“I’m happy,” said Valentino Rossi after the test. “I like the GP12. In my opinion, it’s more enjoyable, more fun to ride. It was the first time we had it on the track, so we had some work to do, but the engine is nicer. It’s a lot of fun, and you can do some nice slides. It’s the bike we’ll ride next year, so it was very important—and also very nice—to be among the first to take it on the track.” Photos, video, and more are awaiting you after the jump.

Valentino Rossi Will Test the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Tomorrow – Nicky Hayden Will Test on Saturday

04/07/2011 @ 7:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Valentino Rossi Will Test the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Tomorrow   Nicky Hayden Will Test on Saturday Ducati Corse Valentino Rossi 635x422

After a day of successful testing at Jerez with Franco Battaini and Vittoriano Guareschi on the GP12, official word has come down from Ducati Corse high command that Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden will swing a leg over the new 1,000cc machine tomorrow and Saturday, respectively. Valentino Rossi has presumably already made the trek back to Spain this evening, and will test the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 tomorrow, while Nicky Hayden will return his press junkets from Germany, and have his turn on the GP12 this Saturday.

MotoGP: Here Come the 1,000’s

04/04/2011 @ 1:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Here Come the 1,000s Rossi Ducati Corse Pit Box 635x390

For the 2012 season, MotoGP will be reverting back to its 1,000cc format (actually, it used to be 990cc, but what’s ten cubic centimeters among friends?). While many MotoGP fans have been awaiting the day that the “big bikes” would return to premier racing with their powersliding, rider chewing, wheelie popping ways, it’s hard to get excited when the first two races of the last 800cc season have been so eventful. Nevertheless the die has been cast, and this week should be begin our first glimpse into these two-wheeled monsters.

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