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.

Honda Now Has Five Factory Riders – Knights San Carlo Honda Gresini as a Factory Squad

03/02/2011 @ 11:40 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Honda Now Has Five Factory Riders   Knights San Carlo Honda Gresini as a Factory Squad San Carlo Gresini Honda launch 635x414

How serious is Honda about winning the 2011 MotoGP World Championship? At Team Gresini’s MotoGP launch at Monza today, it was quietly confirmed that the San Carlo Honda Gresini squad has been given the keys to the candy store, turning the team into a factory-backed effort. While Marco Simoncelli was already assured factory support from Honda for the 2011 season, the move adds Hiroshi Aoyama to the factory rider list, and likely makes Gresini’s life infinitely less complex by not having to manage between a factory and non-factory split garage.

Vermeulen in Sepang for Kawasaki World Superbike Testing

01/10/2011 @ 5:35 pm, by Victoria ReidComments Off

Vermeulen in Sepang for Kawasaki World Superbike Testing  Kawasaki Factory team testing Sepang WSBK 2 635x421

Chris Vermeulen is finally back on a racing bike at the official Kawasaki test in Sepang this week, after only beginning to walk “a couple of weeks ago,” according to his personal Twitter account. According to Kawasaki on this first day of their week-long winter test, “Vermeulen had never ridden the new bike before today and was instantly impressed with it.” Both factory teammates Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes had already ridden their Kawasaki World Superbike machines, but had not used the Sepang facility as Vermeulen has.

The factory team is joined by Team Perercini riders Gabor Talmasci and Roberto Rolfo, as posted at A&R last week. This is Vermeulen’s first time on his new WSBK ride after his knee surgery. He was quoted by the team as saying, “I eased into it today and only did a limited number of laps, over three separate runs…The last bike I rode around Sepang was a GP machine, so to be impressed with this motorbike already shows it is a very good start.” He also made a point of praising the team for their hard work and good development.

Davide Brivio Out of Yamaha, Maio Meregalli In

11/04/2010 @ 11:45 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Davide Brivio Out of Yamaha, Maio Meregalli In Rossi garage Fiat Yamaha 635x339

Yamaha Racing announced this week that Davide Brivio, the Team Manager for Valentino Rossi’s side of the garage, will be leaving the team at the end of the season. Taking on a management role in Rossi’s VR46 brand, Brivio will be replaced by Massimo “Maio” Meregalli, the former factory Yamaha World Superbike team manager. Meregalli’s appointment to the position likely has to to with the entry of Ben Spies into the factory team, as he and Spies reportedly became close during the Texan’s WSBK stint with Yamaha.

Jorge Lorenzo Signs Two-Year Deal with Yamaha

10/01/2010 @ 11:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Jorge Lorenzo Signs Two Year Deal with Yamaha Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha racing contract sign Motegi Japan MotoGP 663x441

Yamaha Racing announced this morning in Motegi, Japan that they have finally come to an agreement with Jorge Lorenzo, which sees the Spanish rider signing a two-year contract with the factory team. The announcement isn’t a surprise, as Lorenzo has made it clear over the course of the season that his goal was to remain at Yamaha, with the Japanese company making similar overtures.

Lorenzo is however the last MotoGP alien to sign-up for next year, with the delay likely being due to salary negotiations and other perks within the team, like developing the YZF-M1 to suit his riding style. Lorenzo is currently 56 points ahead of Dani Pedrosa for the MotoGP Championship title, and is heavily favored to win the accolade this year for Yamaha, after finishing second last year to teammate Valentino Rossi.

Haslam Officially Out of Alstare Suzuki

09/27/2010 @ 9:01 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Haslam Officially Out of Alstare Suzuki Leon Haslam Alstare Suzuki 635x422

Alstare Suzuki announced this morning that Leon Haslam has been let out of his contract with the “factory” Suzuki World Superbike team. Although only halfway through a two-year contract, Haslam is said to have a clause in his contract that guarantees him factory support within the team. With Suzuki’s involvement being brought into question for next season, Alstare team principal Francis Batta has had no choice but to release Haslam from team obligations after Magny-Cours. Although no announcement has come forth, Haslam is widely believed to be taking Ruben Xaus’s seat at BMW for the 2011 season.

The Suzuki Silly Season Roundup: The Rookie, The Veteran, & The Frenchman

09/18/2010 @ 6:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Suzuki Silly Season Roundup: The Rookie, The Veteran, & The Frenchman Rizla Suzuki single bike team 635x422

Noticeably absent from the silly season slogging has been the factory Suzuki MotoGP team. Although we know that Suzuki intends to stay in MotoGP for at least one more season, despite a continued tradition of mediocrity, very little other information has come forward. Perhaps at the top of the rumor heap is the speculation that Rizla Suzuki will potentially field only one bike in the 2011 MotoGP season, electing not to replace Loris Capirossi who has been linked to the Pramac Ducati team.

Marco Melandri All But Confirmed to Replace Xaus in BMW World Superbike Team

08/29/2010 @ 6:43 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Marco Melandri All But Confirmed to Replace Xaus in BMW World Superbike Team Marco Melandri Laguna Seca 560x373

Rumors are intensifying about Marco Melandri’s possible switch to World Superbike next season, as BMW Team Manager Davide Tardozzi told Italian news site GPone, “we don’t have the signature, and that is the most important part, but I received a very positive impression from Melandri.”

As is the case with many riders leaving MotoGP for WSBK, money seems to be less of an issue, than returning to a racing format where non-alien riders can be competitive again. Continuing in his statement, Tardozzi said, “We never talked about money, only about how competitive we would be. Marco wants to win and show that he is still a top rider, and I think this is the right philosophy for Superbike.”

Ben Spies All But Confirms Factory Announcement

08/26/2010 @ 4:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Ben Spies All But Confirms Factory Announcement Ben Spies Factory Yamaha announcement 560x326

Another one of the worst-kept secrets in the MotoGP paddock is the graduation of Ben Spies from the Monster Tech3 Yamaha team to the factory Yamaha squad. With Valentino Rossi now officially out of the Yamaha picture, Spies’ opening in the factory squad is finally vacant.

With Spies testing the 2011 Yamaha YZR-M1 at Brno two weeks ago, more fuel was added to the fire that an announcement from the Texan was imminent. Dodging an official statements during Thursday’s pre-race conference at Indianapolis GP, Spies still all but confirmed where he would be for next season.

Silly Season: Dovizioso to Gresini, Melandri to WSBK

08/09/2010 @ 7:20 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Silly Season: Dovizioso to Gresini, Melandri to WSBK Andrea Dovizioso Laguna Seca 560x372

Just because Ducati won’t announce that they’ve signed Valentino Rossi, doesn’t meant that silly season in the MotoGP paddock can’t continue. The latest rumors coming out of GP racing is the departure of Marco Melandri to World Superbike, supposedly to a BMW ride, and Andrea Dovizioso finding himself riding with Gresini Honda, on a factory supported Honda RC212V. The move apparently comes because of Honda’s obligation to Dovizioso, and desire to keep the currently #2 rider in the world: Dani Pedrosa.

James Toseland Heads Back to WSBK for 2010

10/01/2009 @ 6:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

James Toseland Heads Back to WSBK for 2010 James Toseland back to WSBK 560x390

This is a busy week for Yamaha Racing, with its MotoGP squad headed to Estoril and WSBK getting ready for its second-to-last stop in Magny-Cours. Fresh from the tuning fork brand is another announcement for its 2010 rider line-up, and this time around it concerns James Toseland.

Coming straight from Yamaha HQ, James Toseland, the former World Superbike Champion and current MotoGP satellite rider, will be headed back to World Superbike for the 2010 season, taking the place of Ben Spies who will be moving into Toseland’s now empty seat at Monster Tech3 Yamaha.