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.

MotoGP Owners Looking to Buy World Superbike

06/13/2011 @ 12:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MotoGP Owners Looking to Buy World Superbike carlos checa water pit lane 635x449

Bear with us on this one, as it’s a bit convoluted. Bridgepoint Capital, a private equity firm based out of London, owns Spanish company Dorna Sports SL. Dorna, which as you might recall is the media rights holder and promoter for MotoGP, the motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship that we all know and love. Meanwhile World Superbike is owned in majority by Swiss company Infront Sports & Media, and in minority by the Italian-born Flammini brothers, with the latter group still handling WSBK’s media promotion.

Now according to reports, Infront Sports & Media is up for sale, and one of the three alleged bidders is Bridgepoint Capital (circle back to the second sentence in the first paragraph if you got lost on the way here). This means that potentially the twice-removed owner of MotoGP could potentially own a controlling stake in the Championship’s rival series: World Superbike. There are still a number of “if’s” in whether Bridgepoint will come through as a buyer on Infront Sports & Media, but ownership of both series by the same party, even at a removed distance is worth some general discussion.

Moto3 Announcement Expected at Brno

08/11/2010 @ 7:21 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Moto3 Announcement Expected at Brno 125GP Qatar 560x389

Two-stroke GP racing is expected to die next year, and the announcement of the Moto3 class is expected to occur during the GP Commission’s meeting at the Czech GP in a couple days. Scheduled to meet on Friday, the GP Commission has been hammering out the details on the 250cc single-cylinder four-stroke racing class that will replace 125GP in 2012, and will likely make an announcement after Sunday’s race.

Similar in concept to the Moto2 class, the most notable difference is the rumor that the Moto3 class will not be a spec-motor series, meaning any manufacturer can build a thumper and compete in the series. Considering the large number of manufacturers that already have experience racing 250cc singles, we can expect an array of bikes to be on the grid in 2012.

MotoGP and WSBK Battle Over Valencia Exclusivity

04/20/2010 @ 6:04 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MotoGP and WSBK Battle Over Valencia Exclusivity Valencia race track aerial 635x433

Dorna (MotoGP) and Infront Sports (WSBK) are to battle over the exclusive rights to race at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain. Home to the Valencian GP, the venue has also played host to the World Superbike Championship since 2000. As one of the larger and most popular venues, the track is the cornerstone for both races series, and in one of the most fruitful motorcycle racing markets…and Dorna wants it all to itself.

World Superbike in New Zealand 2012?

03/05/2010 @ 6:19 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

World Superbike in New Zealand 2012? WSBK New Zealand track

Just days after WSBK wrapped up its season opener at Phillip Island, Australia, rumors are about that the Flammini Brothers are eyeing the Hampton Down circuit in New Zealand as a possible destination for the World Superbike Championship in 2012. Hampton Downs will reportedly have to increase its track length in order to qualify for FIM homologation, which should make the road course 2.4 miles long.

Ezpeleta on 1000cc Engine Switch in MotoGP: “Production Engines” Won’t be in the Rule Book

12/08/2009 @ 5:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Ezpeleta on 1000cc Engine Switch in MotoGP: Production Engines Wont be in the Rule Book Jorge Lorenzo podium jump 560x400

There’s be some trouble brewing in the MotoGP/WSBK camp after news hit that MotoGP would be switching back to a 1000cc format by the 2012 season. In that story, several possibilities on how that format would work were put forth by various sides, one such proposal being the running of production based motors in MotoGP.

These motors, which would be based off those found on streetbikes, could be tuned to any degree, provided it met the criteria in the MotoGP rule book (1000cc & four-cylinders are the only regulations agreed upon currently). This news of course drew the ire of World Superbike promoter, Infront Motor Sports, in the form of Paolo Flammini, who believes that format would infringe on his license to exclusively run a production based race series.

Refusing at first to define what a production engine is, Dorna’s Carmelo Ezpeleta is now switching gears and saying the term “production engine” won’t even appear in the new MotoGP racing regulations.

Moto2 and Supersport Have No Conflict According to Paolo Flammini

05/12/2009 @ 12:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Moto2 and Supersport Have No Conflict According to Paolo Flammini bqr honda moto2 bike 4 560x420

Ever since the concept of the Moto2 class was announced, there has been some tension between the Flammini brothers and the Dorna for stating the Moto2 racing class. The Flammini brothers run the World Supersport class, which is sanctioned to be the only Production 600cc World Championship Series by the FIM. Moto2 has been accused by some for possibly infringing on WSS’s domain, and when the Permanent Committee, consisting of Dorna and the FIM, announced that Honda was to supply engines to the Moto2 class that were loosely based on Honda’s road-going CBR600RR motor, this overlap seeemed even more pronounced. We believed at the time that there were substantial differences between the Moto2 class and the WSS production machines, and it would appear that Paolo and his brother Maurizio agree with us.