At the AMA Supermoto Season-Opener in Bakersfield

It all started with the Superbikers. As a young man growing up in the late 70s, there were only three network TV stations for me to watch, and unlike today, motorsports programs were few and far between. Other than the Indy 500 and the occasional airing of stock car racing, motorsports just weren’t on the air very often. During one serendipitous Saturday, I happened upon ABC’s Wide World of Sports. And on that particular day, they were airing the Superbikers. Looking back, the influence that program had on the rest of my motorcycling life is immeasurable. An unusual combination of road racing, dirt track, and motocross, the Superbikers showcased racers I had only read about in the motorcycle magazines.

The WorldSBK Season So Far: Yamaha & Honda

While it has hardly been surprising to see Ducati and Kawasaki maintain their position as the dominant forces at play in WorldSBK, the battle for best-of-the-rest has been an interesting subplot for 2017. Over the course of the opening three rounds of the campaign, the form of Honda and Yamaha has been marked by their stark contrast in fortunes. Last year, Honda had been a podium and front-row regular as the season moved into the European swing, and Yamaha looked to be clutching at straws and looking for any positives they could find on their return to the series. This year has seen their roles have reversed, with Yamaha consistently the best-of-the-rest and in position to fight for a rostrum finish. Honda on the other hand have had a disastrous start to the campaign with an all-new Fireblade.

Investors Leveraging MotoGP for Sizable Payout

According to several reports in the financial sector, the investors behind Dorna Sports S.L. are readying themselves for another sizable payout from the media rights holder for the MotoGP and WorldSBK Championships. Using a bit of financial finesse, the move would see Bridgepoint Capital and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) – the two major investors in Dorna Sports – taking roughly €889 million off the books of the Spanish media company, according to Reuters. As such, today’s news would make this the third time that Bridgepoint and the CPPIB have raided the piggy bank for motorcycling’s premier racing series, having done similar deals in 2011 (€420 million) and 2014 (€715 million).

Norton Gets £3 Million to Increase V4 Production

If you have had your eye on a Norton V4 superbike recently, you might not have to wait as long for it to arrive, as the British marque has secured £3 million from the Santander Corporate & Commercial bank. The debt investment will allow Norton to triple its production rate on the V4 SS and V4 RR models, and also allow for the company to hire 40 new employees for the job. Additionally, according to Norton this will allow the company to increase its production volume to 1,500 motorcycles per year. “Having developed and pre-sold a huge number of bikes, we needed the funding to be readily available to pay for tooling, stock and people to allow production to move from 40 bikes per month to in excess of 130 bikes with effect from summer 2017,” said Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles.

Is The 2018 BMW HP4 Race About to Debut in China?

After this year’s April Fools hijinks, we have a whole new respect for the cunning that resides at BMW Motorrad, and the Germans seem to be honing that trait even further today. Announcing its plans for the upcoming Auto Shanghai 2017 later this month, BMW lists a number of four-wheeled news items for the Chinese auto show, and then casually slips-in at the end of the press release that we should expect a big unveil from BMW Motorrad. The statement reads that “the highlight of the BMW Motorrad stand is the world premiere of one of the most exclusive models ever offered by BMW Motorrad,” which is terse, though given what we know about the Bavarian brand, it should be easy to guess what they are hinting at.

Vyrus 986 M2 Street Bike Now Priced at €38,000

It is apparently more difficult to sell a kidney than I had previously thought (type o- / non-smoker / non-drinker…if you happen to be in the market), which isn’t good news when you are trying to get together some scratch for a Vyrus 986 M2 – the hottest supersport we have ever seen. Making matters worse is that Vyrus got in touch with A&R, updating us with their latest pricing structure for their Honda-powered hub-center steering masterpiece, which now comes with a price tag of €37,940 for the street bike, and €27,930 for the street bike kit. That is quite the change from the originally quoted €25,000 street bike model and €16,000 kit, and there is good reason for that, say the folks at Vyrus.

You Didn’t Know You Missed It, But the Honda NM4 Is Back

You probably didn’t even realize that the Honda NM4 was missing from Honda America’s model list for 2017, but the polarizing motorcycle is back for the 2018 model year. The first 2018 motorcycle to be announced so far this year from Honda, it probably helps that the Honda NM4 is featured in the Ghost in the Shell movie, which stars Scarlett Johansson. Laugh if you want, but the NM4 is a surprisingly pleasant to ride, even if you aren’t dressed like the Caped Crusader. As such, the Honda NM4 represents a tradition of motorcycles from Big Red that have pushed that boundaries of not only what we visually accept a motorcycle to look like, but it also blurs the distinctions we make between different motorcycle segments.

US Senate Establishes Motorcycle Caucus

The motorcycle industry has found more allies on Capital Hill this week, with the creation of the first “motorcycle caucus” in the United States Senate. Established so motorcycle manufacturers and motorcyclists would have a greater voice in the upper chamber of the American legislature, the Senate Motorcycle Caucus is the work of Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Gary Peters (D-Michigan). Motorcyclists typically aren’t single-issue voter – not for issues pertaining to motorcycles, at least – but with several important political issues currently affecting the motorcycle industry, the formation of the Senate Motorcycle Caucus comes at an advantageous time.

Husqvarna Two-Strokes Get Fuel-Injection Too

We shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Husqvarna will be following suit with its Austrian sibling, and adding fuel-injection to several of its two-strokes enduro motorcycle for the 2018 model year. After a long history of rumors and development, KTM finally debuted fuel injection for a production two-stroke model just a few weeks ago, using the technology on two of its upcoming enduro models, the KTM 250 EXC TPI and KTM 300 EXC TPI. Husqvarna will use the same technology for its own motorcycles in the same segments, announcing today the the all-new 2018 Husqvarna TE 250i and 2018 Husqvarna TE 300i enduro models with transfer port injection.

Opinion: The Danger of Expanding the MotoGP Calendar

It is looking increasingly like the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand will be added to the MotoGP calendar for the 2018 season. I understand from sources that there was a significant hurdle to be overcome: circuit title sponsor Chang is a major beer brand in Thailand, and a rival to the Official MotoGP Beer Singha, also a major beer brand in Thailand and further abroad. The race can only happen if a compromise has been found to accommodate this conflict. This is good news for Thailand, and good news for fans in Asia. The World Superbike round at the circuit is always packed, and MotoGP should be even more popular. It is hard to overstate just how massive MotoGP is in that part of the world.

MotoGP Adding Breathalyzer to Drug Test Protocol

04/20/2017 @ 9:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Going forward, the MotoGP Championship will begin testing its riders for alcohol consumption, adding a breathalyzer test to its random drug screening process.

While alcohol use has been banned in MotoGP since 2004, today’s news comes as the FIM has added the testing protocol to its 2017 medical code.

Like its current process regarding the screening for drug use, the FIM will pick three random riders before several rounds during the season, and make them take a mandatory breathalyzer test.

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FIM Appoints Steve Aeschlimann as New CEO

01/12/2017 @ 1:21 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme is set for some new leadership, as Steve Aeschlimann has been appointed to take over from Ignacio Verneda as CEO of the FIM.

Aeschlimann has been a senior member of the FIM since 2011, holding several high ranks within the organization during his tenure. Before joining the FIM, Aeschlimann was the Director of the UEFA, the European Football Union.

Now as the CEO of the FIM, Aeschlimann’s goal will be to modernize motorcycling’s highest governing body, which will be no easy task.

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FIM President Vito Ippolito Writes an Open Letter About Incidents Surrounding the Sepang Clash

10/29/2015 @ 11:33 am, by Jensen Beeler96 COMMENTS

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The Sepang Clash, as Dorna would like for us to refer to it, continues to send shockwaves down the sport; as videos emerge of altercations between entourages at the track, photos and messages of hate circulate around social media, and the latest entry with Repsol releasing a strongly worded press release that calls into question the future of the Spanish company’s involvement in MotoGP.

David has already written exhaustively about the events at the track, and we have little interest here at Asphalt & Rubber in fueling the fire that was started in Sepang. Needless to say, no one is winning in all of this, and the sport is clearly getting a black eye because of all these actions.

While hopefully cooler heads prevail, it’s clear that things are still hot and heavy in the MotoGP Championship. Addressing some of the more unsavory acts that have come as a result of the on-track action at the Malaysian GP, FIM President Vito Ippolito has penned an open letter to the various stakeholders in the world championship.

While he doesn’t speak to anyone by name, it is very clear who are the different parties that Ippolito is reprimanding. You can read his letter after the jump.

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Vito Ippolito Elected to Third Term as FIM President

11/24/2014 @ 11:22 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Vito Ippolito Elected to Third Term as FIM President

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The ballots are in, and Vito Ippolito will continue as the President of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), for the next four years. Ippolito was re-relected at the FIM General Assembly held in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. With 103 national motorcycle federations taking part in the voting, Ippolito defeated rival Jorge Viegas of Portugal with 62 votes to 41.

For those who don’t know the sixty-two-year-old Venezuelan-born Ippolito, he has an impressive career in motorcycling. He was the manager of Team Venemotos, during the period their rider Carlos Lavado won the 250GP World Championships in 1983 and 1986. He was also the President of the FMV (Venezuelan Federation) from 1992 to 2006, and has been involved with duties at the FIM since 1984.

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FIM Hints at Homologation Rule Changes for WSBK

01/17/2014 @ 10:25 am, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

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With the recent announcement that Alstare and Bimota are to join forces, and headed to go race in the World Superbike Championship, many wondered how the boutique Italian brand would meet the homologation requirements, established for WSBK racing, with the Bimota BB3 superbike.

A similar eyebrow was raised when Erik Buell Racing announced its intention to switch from AMA Pro Road Racing to World Superbike, as the OEM clearly didn’t have the manufacturing capacity to produce the requisite number of motorcycles according to the FIM’s timetable.

Well those questions seemed to have been answered, as the FIM has released a statement — well more a statement promising a future statement — that hints at future rule changes for homologation requirments.

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At the First FIM Women’s Road Racing Training Camp

11/01/2013 @ 8:18 am, by Shelina Moreda15 COMMENTS

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Today’s guest post is written by our good friend Shelina Moreda (Facebook & Twitter), an FIM eRoadracing rider for Team Parker Brammo, an AMA Pro Harley Davidson Vance & Hines rider with Team Spyke’s H-D / She’z Racing, and the first female to have raced a motorcycle at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Having just got back from the FIM Women’s Road Racing Training Camp in Albacete, Spain, we asked Shelina to share with us her experience teaching at the girls training camp, what she learned in attendance, and how the sport of motorcycle racing is being invaded by these talented ladies. -Jensen

The first ever FIM Women’s Road Racing Training Camp in Albacete, Spain was better than any of us could have hoped for. The camp sold out, with 24 girls from 10 different countries in attendance.

The Women in Motorcycling Commission organized this camp as one part of their larger goal of promoting women in all motorsports, and I was honored to be asked to instruct at this camp.

My fellow teachers include Mr. Ismael Bonilla from Spain – former Grand Prix rider in the 250cc class from 1996 until 2001, as well as guest instructor Melissa Paris, of AMA Pro Daytona SportBike road racing fame — an athlete many female riders look up to.

The goal of the camp was to give female riders from all over the world the opportunity to train with high-spec motorcycles and professional coaches on a major racing circuit, and to give them the tools to make them better riders. The FIM hit it out of the ballpark.

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Palestine Becomes a Member of the FIM

12/06/2012 @ 4:40 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off on Palestine Becomes a Member of the FIM

The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme General Assembly met in Monte-Carlo this past weekend, where 76 of 107 of the member federations were in attendance. Conducting a bit of FIM business, one of the more interesting points to note from the meeting was the FIM General Assembly’s acceptance of two new applications to join the FIM. One of the applications came from Fédération Motocycliste de Côte d’Ivoire (FMCI), which replaces the Ivory Coast’s previous federation, the FISAM.

The second application though is a bit more interesting, as the FIM General Assembly accepted the Palestinian Motor Sport and Motorcycle Federation (PMSMF) as the FIM’s 108th member federation. Able to accomplish what the United Nations has been unable to do in the past 25 years, the FIM acceptance is a growing trend in international politics, and it adds recognition to the the eight-year-old PMSMF, which has already be granted member status in the car realm with the FIA.

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FIM Reviewing How Rossi/Stoner Crash Was Handled

04/05/2011 @ 8:23 am, by Jensen Beeler17 COMMENTS

The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) will be reviewing the conduct of track officials regarding their handling of the crash aduring the Spanish GP, which saw Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner crashing out together in Turn 1. After separating the bikes, as Stoner’s had been on top of Rossi’s, a vast majority of the corner workers rushed to Rossi’s aid, leaving Stoner stranded until the Italian was underway.

Stoner in the post-race debriefs was noticeably upset over the favortism shown by the Spanish workers (he did not re-enter the race), a complaint that was also levied by Marco Simoncelli, who also got no assistance in his incident.

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FIM e-Power/TTXGP Merger Well Underway

03/16/2011 @ 6:29 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Rumors of an FIM e-Power and TTXGP merger have been quietly floating around for the past week, and before we could report on those whispers of the event, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme has scooped us with the story that it has been holding conversations with the folks at TTXGP regarding the two series running joint events during the 2011 electric motorcycle season, with a possible final joint Championship to take place at the end of the year.

Sources close to the talks have told Asphalt & Rubber that a merger between the two series is imminent, with many of the stakeholders already signing-off on the deal. The likely outcome would be a series that lives on with the e-Power name, promoted by none other than Dorna Motor Sports, of MotoGP media fame. The FIM’s impetus seems to be in consolidating the two diverging series, and finally integrating them into established professional road racing.

Conversely, TTXGP will be able to find a financial exit from the rumored deal, something its investors will surely be happy to see. TTXGP has been able to piggyback off of local and club racing events, making deals with the tracks themselves, rather than the organizing bodies, in an effort to expand rapidly. While TTXGP has seen push-back from the Isle of Man TT, FIM, and AMA, the series has proven to be more adept at marketing itself than the FIM with its e-Power.

More on this as we get it, for now both parties are only admitting to the fact that they are talking about “collaborating” with one another. Joint statement from the FIM & TTXGP after the jump, along with their 2011 racing calendars.

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Donington Park Green Lit by the FIM for WSBK this Month

03/02/2011 @ 11:02 am, by Victoria ReidComments Off on Donington Park Green Lit by the FIM for WSBK this Month

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.

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