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.

Video: The Best Highside Save Ever?

05/14/2012 @ 6:36 pm, by Jensen Beeler16 COMMENTS

Video: The Best Highside Save Ever? Genki Hagata racing highside save Infineon 635x400

During the second AMA Pro Supersport qualifying session at Sears Point, #422 Genki Hagata had a moment that every motorcycle racer knows all too well: a highside. Still completing his out-lap, Hagata’s Yamaha YZF-R6 lost traction at the rear wheel, and then abruptly regained it, which for most riders would usually mean an ejection seat straight into the kitty litter, but not for Genki.

Holding onto the bars throughout the incident, Hagata avoided crashing (again, as the case would be for the weekend), and while he missed making the cut-off for Supersport grid by only a few tenths of a second, we still think he was the big winner of AMA Pro Racing’s third road-racing stop of the season. See it to believe it after the jump, and thanks for the tip 梁聰!

Lorenzo Cleared to Race after Free Practice Crash

07/23/2011 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Lorenzo Cleared to Race after Free Practice Crash Jorge Lorenzo crash Laguna Seca

Jorge Lorenzo had a spectacle of a highside during the cooldown lap after MotoGP’s Free Practice 3, sending the Spanish rider into the air and his Yamaha YZR-M1 motorcycle tumbling after him. Stopping to do a practice start, the traction control on Lorenzo’s M1 was disabled, which is normal during such an event. Failing to re-engage the TC system after his start by downshifting (as would happen going into Turn 1 after a start), Lorenzo entered the next turn without his rider aids.

Cracking the throttle wide-open on the corner exit (as is the custom now with GP bikes), the Yamaha recieved full-power to the rear wheel, resulting in the accident. Hitting the ground hard, Lorenzo recieved further injury from his M1 also colliding with him, resulting in the Spaniard grabbing his knee and being slow to get up from the gravel trap. Helped off the track by corner workers, Lorenzo was already recovering from the incident by the time he got to the Clinca Mobile.

Melandri Dislocates Shoulder – Out for Dutch TT

06/25/2010 @ 2:27 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Melandri Dislocates Shoulder   Out for Dutch TT Marco Melandri Assen highside crash MotoGP

Injuries continue to plague MotoGP, and the starting grid at Assen will feature only 15 riders as Marco Melandri dislocated his shoulder during today’s early morning practice session (FP2). Melandri was going through the revised Ruskenhoek corner, and found himself overshooting the corner, as he negotiated the narrow run-off, his rear tire went from the slippery grass surface to the tarmac. Catching immediate traction, the Gresini Honda catapulted Melandri, who landed on his shoulder, which became dislocated.

Aoyama Out For Dutch TT After Silverstone Highside

06/21/2010 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

At Silverstone this weekend, the infamous highside crash has claimed another rider: Hiroshi Aoyama. After crashing during the warm-up session, Aoyama was eventually taken to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where it was confirmed that the Japanese rider had fractured his T12 vertebra. Aoyama will be moved to Barcelona, Spain tomorrow, where he’ll see another specialist and get a second opinion on how to treat his condition.

Rossi Highsides at Mugello – Compound Fracture – Out for Six Weeks

06/05/2010 @ 1:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Rossi Highsides at Mugello   Compound Fracture   Out for Six Weeks Valentino Rossi Mugello crash 560x339

Valentino Rossi has had a horrific crash today during practice at the Italian GP at Mugello. Highsiding in Turn 13, Rossi has sustained a compound fracture to his right shin. He was flown by helicopter from the circuit to Centro Traumatologico Ortopedico in Florence where he underwent surgery on his leg. The surgery was successful in repairing the fractured bone, and Rossi is expected to be in the hospital for the next seven to ten days, and likely not to return to racing for at least six weeks. Video of the crash after the jump.

Video: Bautista Highsides at Le Mans – Withdraws from Sunday’s MotoGP Race

05/22/2010 @ 12:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Video: Bautista Highsides at Le Mans   Withdraws from Sundays MotoGP Race Alvaro Bautista Le Mans MotoGP 560x401

Alvaro Bautista found himself at the wrong end of a nasty highside during FP2 at Le Mans this race weekend. The Spanish rider was already suffering from a broken collarbone, an injury he had surgery on only a week ago, but looked ready to ride Le Mans despite this injury. However after crashing today, Bautista has now retired from tomorrow’s race, complaining of pain in his shoulder. Rizla Suzuki is not looking to replace Bautista for Sunday, and expects him to make be ready to race at the Mugello in two week’s time. Video of Bautista’s crash after the jump.

Video: Max Neukirchner Escapes a Nasty Highside During the Portimao Superpole

03/30/2010 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Video: Max Neukirchner Escapes a Nasty Highside During the Portimao Superpole Max Neukirchner Portimao WSBK 560x371

Max Neukirchner was a unlucky (or is it lucky?) man this weekend while World Superbike made a race weekend at Portimao. While racing during the Superpole event at the Portugese track, the German rider found himself and his Ten Kate Honda on the wrong end of a nasty highside. Cresting over the hill, you can see Neukirchner spin like a top, while his Honda CBR gets its rear wheel crushed. As you’ll see in the video after the jump, Neukirchner came out of the crash relatively unscathed, and was able to start Race 1 at Portimao.

Hayden Sachsenring Qualifying Highside Video

07/20/2009 @ 6:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

On Saturday’s qualifying, Nicky Hayden got launched in Turn 8, as his Ducati Desmosedici GP9 highsided from the rain at the Sachsenring. Luckily, fellow Ducati rider Niccolo Canpea was there to break Nicky’s fall. Check the video above (0:38 in) to watch Hayden takedown Canepa Terry Tate Office Linebacker style.