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.

Brivio to Leave Yamaha for Ducati?

08/24/2010 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Brivio to Leave Yamaha for Ducati? Davide Brivio Valentino Rossi 560x393

Now that Valentino Rossi has made his move to Ducati official, the only thing left to speculate upon is who will decide to join him at Ducati Corse. Most of this speculation surrounds Rossi’s Crew Chief, Jeremy Burgess, who many consider to be the man behind the man. However other familiar faces at Fiat-Yamaha could be jumping ship as well, namely Davide Brivio.

Brivio is Rossi’s Team Manager at Fiat-Yamaha (with the wall in the Fiat-Yamaha garage, Lorenzo has his own Team Manager, Wilco Zeelenberg), and if the Italian leaves Fiat-Yamaha along with Jeremy Burgess, the team will see a decisive blow in its talent pool.

Yamaha Looking to Sign both Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies to the Factory Team

08/17/2010 @ 7:04 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Yamaha Looking to Sign both Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies to the Factory Team 2011 Yamaha YZR M1 Brno test 1 560x420

The news is a bit obvious, but Lin Jarvis, the Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, has confirmed that the factory MotoGP squad intends to retain the services of Jorge Lorenzo, and bring Ben Spies into the squad for the 2011 season.

The news comes on the heels of Valentino Rossi’s decision to move to Ducati for next season, and has been assumed to be a done deal once Rossi’s announcement was made public. This is however the first time that anyone at Yamaha has spoken about the team structure for next year in such a direct tone, likely because of the need to keep Rossi’s departure under wraps.

Reading Between the Lines of Valentino

08/16/2010 @ 1:15 pm, by Jensen Beeler44 COMMENTS

Reading Between the Lines of Valentino Valentino Rossi focus 560x372

Handwritten and then reproduced by Fiat-Yamaha, Valentino Rossi included an open letter with the announcement of his departure from Fiat-Yamaha to Marlboro Ducati. In his own words Rossi documents his “relationship” with the Yamaha YZR-M1, and is quick to point-out that it was Rossi’s direction and input that turned the bike into the weapon of choice in MotoGP. Reading the letter, it might be a bit strange as to why the message was included with the official press release from Yamaha, but peering between the lines some parting words can be inferred from Rossi, and perhaps greater insight into what makes a nine-time World Champion.

V-Day Will Be Sunday after the Race

08/12/2010 @ 4:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

V Day Will Be Sunday after the Race Rossi Ducati pit box photoshop 560x371

Asked when he would announce his move to Ducati his future plans during the pre-race press conference today, Valentino Rossi confirmed that he would make an announcement after Sunday’s Czech GP race. The next few days will probably be the longest ever to occur in Italy, but we all must wait a little longer for the the arrival of V-Day, and to know what we already know.

The Countdown to V-Day

07/29/2010 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

The Countdown to V Day Jorge Lorenzo six wins 560x372

No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.

Valentino Rossi’s Laguna Seca Helmet

07/24/2010 @ 12:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossis Laguna Seca Helmet Valentino Rossi Helmet Laguna Seca 560x371

Just as Fiat-Yamaha will be running special race livery this weekend, Valentino Rossi had some one-off paint work done to his helmet for MotoGP’s race at Laguna Seca. For Fiat-Yamaha, the Laguna Race livery consists of the faces of 500 fans who submitted their photos to the race team, but on Rossi’s helmet you’ll find the people that help him go fast: his team.

You can also find Rossi’s dogs near the back, and while it hasn’t been confirmed…the fellow above the AGV on the front looks a lot like Ron Jeremy (whoever that is).

Photo: © 2010 Scott Jones Photography

Rossi Considering WSBK after MotoGP

07/24/2010 @ 6:02 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Rossi Considering WSBK after MotoGP Valentino Rossi corkscrew Laguna Seca Scott Jones 560x371

During the rider debrief on Thursday we found Valentino Rossi looking in good form and ready for the race weekend at Laguna Seca. Noticeably better on his feet, the conversation actually turned from the Italian’s injury, and approached normalcy by centering once again on Rossi’s future.

However this time the speculation wasn’t about whether he’d ride for Ducati, but instead what Rossi would like to do after he finishes his MotoGP career. His answer? World Superbike. Read it for yourself in the Q&A after the jump.

Ducati & Yamaha’s Gentlemen’s Agreement: Rossi to Test GP10 at Valencia – Announcement Delayed

07/21/2010 @ 3:01 am, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Ducati & Yamahas Gentlemens Agreement: Rossi to Test GP10 at Valencia   Announcement Delayed Valentino Rossi Ducati Yamaha gentlemens agreement 560x453

After breaking the news that Valentino Rossi signed a two-year contract with Ducati Corse, or as we like to refer to it: the worst kept secret in the MotoGP garage, we waited to see the official news of Rossi’s departure materialize after the weekend break, but to no avail. Knowing that our information was correct, we now understand why the announcement didn’t materialize when we expected it: because of a gentleman’s agreement between Ducati & Yamaha.

In exchange for delaying the announcement until after the American round at Laguna Seca (now slated for the Monday after racing at Brno), Yamaha is allowing Rossi to test the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 when MotoGP stops at Valencia at the end of the 2010 season.

Let’s Try This Again…Caption This Photo

07/17/2010 @ 3:07 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Rossi Given the Green Light to Race at Sachsenring

07/15/2010 @ 10:15 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Rossi Given the Green Light to Race at Sachsenring Rossi Misano test wheelie 842x1024

Meeting today with the Chief Medical Officer at the Sachsenring, Rossi has received word that he can participate in, and race at, the German GP. This means Rossi can turn a wheel in Friday’s practice sessions, and further assess his readiness for MotoGP racing. Should Rossi take to the Yamaha YZF-M1 by Saturday, he will have gone from injury to competition in just six weeks’ time, an incredible feat.

Although he completed 46 laps at Brno this week, Rossi still reported pain in his leg and shoulder, along with being tired from the testing sessions. With fans and MotoGP keen to see the nine-time Champion is keen to get back to racing, we can imagine there’s little that will stop Rossi from riding on Sunday, thus giving Wataru Yoshikawa a reprieve from his duties.