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.

IOMTT: Quarterbridge with Richard Mushet

05/28/2014 @ 1:34 am, by Richard Mushet2 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Quarterbridge with Richard Mushet Quarterbridge Isle of Man TT 2014 Richard Mushet 09 635x423

After arriving by ferry, late on Monday evening, my TT began tonight at Quarterbridge. Following on from Monday night’s perfect conditions, the course was once again bathed in glorious sunlight, which provides a challenge in itself to achieve the ideal exposure on your images.

Quarterbridge is situated just beyond the first milestone and provides the first “real” corner of the Mountain course, after the iconic (and flat-out) Bray Hill and Ago’s Leap sections. Riders approach the corner while braking downhill, before attempting to hit the apex and carry some decent speed as they get back on the throttle to head towards Braddan Bridge.

Other than listening to the loudspeakers erected around the circuit, the only hint of approaching bikes is the distant screaming of a redlining engine shortly followed by numerous downshifts. If you’re lucky, you can catch the flash of a rider’s helmet through the dense foliage on the inside of the turn’s approach. For the TT, this is more than the usual notice, especially when compared to faster sections, some of which have a non-existent lead time to take your shot.

The fading sunlight provided a dramatic backdrop later on in the solo sessions, but left the sidecars looking a little dull once the sun had dipped beneath the surrounding tree line, but that’s merely one of the many challenges you face when shooting this legendary circuit.

IOMTT: Cronk-y-Voddy with Tony Goldsmith

05/27/2014 @ 7:52 am, by Tony Goldsmith7 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Cronk y Voddy with Tony Goldsmith Cronk y Voddy Straight Isle of Man TT 2014 Tony Goldsmith 04 635x422

After a delay of 48 hours due to adverse weather, practice for 2014 Isle of Man TT finally got under way in perfect conditions on Monday evening.

I decided to go the end of the Lambfell section where the riders crest a rise and wheelie onto the the Cronk-y-Voddy straight. I’m not sure of the speed they are doing at this point but it must be in the region of 140mph.

Standing on the hedge this is a relatively straight forward shot, despite the speed as you can see the bikes approaching and the camera can track them.

Sitting on the hedge to lower the angle, which is my preference, is more challenging as you don’t see the riders until the last minute. I ended up with more pictures in the bin than I would have liked, but that’s the challenge of photographing the TT.

I’m not sure what the weather has in store for us this evening so a decision on where to go will most likely be made at the last minute.

Isle of Man TT Start Moved to Monday, On Account of Rain

05/25/2014 @ 2:26 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Isle of Man TT Start Moved to Monday, On Account of Rain rain isle of man tt 635x423

It’s not a good start to festivities over at the Isle of Man, as the 2014 Isle of Man TT has seen its first day of practice washed out by the rain. Saturday’s opening day was called by Clerk of the Course Gary Thompson, as rain hit the small nation island in the evening.

As such, Saturday’s schedule will be added to Monday’s, with the newcomers speed-controlled untimed laps for solo riders starting at 18:15, with the sidecar newcomers starting their first lap at 18:30. The sessions originally slated for Monday (Superbike, Superstock, and Supersport) will get underway at 18:45, as was originally planned.

2014 Isle of Man TT Practice & Race Schedule

05/24/2014 @ 6:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

2014 Isle of Man TT Practice & Race Schedule isle of man tt course map 635x423

The 2014 Isle of Man TT is finally underway…sort of. With heavy rain on the Isle of Man today, the scheduled practice sessions had to be abandoned for safety reasons. The weather for Sunday is looking better though, and thus tomorrow will likely mean the practical start for what we consider to be motorcycling’s greatest event.

This year US fans will be able to follow the Isle of Man TT on the Velocity channel. If that’s not a part of your TV package, don’t worry; we’ve got some great TT coverage coming your way, straight from the Isle of Man. So stay tuned to Asphalt & Rubber for the latest on the Isle of Man TT sessions and happenings.

To aid in planning your sleep schedule, please find the provisional schedule of sessions after the jump.

“TT Microworlds” – The Isle of Man TT, In Miniature

05/17/2014 @ 12:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

TT Microworlds   The Isle of Man TT, In Miniature tt microworlds isle of man tt 635x423

The Isle of Man TT is only a few weeks away from starting, so naturally we want to whet your appetite for one of motorcycling’s greatest events. Here is the TT from a slightly different perspective though, called “TT Microworlds” — the work product of Manx film producer Glenn Whorrall.

Using a tilt-shift filiming technique, which creates a narrow band on the frame where the shot is in focus, Whorrall has employed the simple effect to make the Isle of Man TT look as if it was being done in miniature form, perhaps in a hobbyist’s workshop.

Hardcore cinefiles will probably deride the extensive use of the sometimes gimmicky technique, but we just like anything that has to do with racing motorcycles. For the few minutes of your time, it’s worth a watch.

Isle of Man TT Gets TV Deal for Australia & USA

04/14/2014 @ 10:01 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Isle of Man TT Gets TV Deal for Australia & USA Braddan Bridge Union Mills 2013 Isle of Man TT Tony Goldsmith 08 635x421

Want to watch the Isle of Man TT from the comfort of your non-British TV, but haven’t been able to in the past? A new TV from the Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development will do just that.

Inking a new TV contract with North One TV, the Isle of Man TT will be televised in the American, Australian, and of course British markets, making it easier than ever to watch the iconic road race.

Michael Dunlop Enters Lightweight TT Race – Looking for Six Race Wins at 2014 Isle of Man TT

04/05/2014 @ 5:11 pm, by Bryan Delohery6 COMMENTS

Michael Dunlop Enters Lightweight TT Race   Looking for Six Race Wins at 2014 Isle of Man TT michael dunlop supersport iomtt 635x445

After an impressive four victories at the 2013 Isle of Man TT, Michael Dunlop has announced his entry into the Lightweight TT race for 2014, and thus a bid to win six solo races in 2014.

Although Dunlop has admittedly not been concerned with the Lightweight TT in the past, when you’re on a mission to take six podiums in one week, you take wins wherever you can get them.

Having already tied Phillip McCallen’s 1996 mark of four wins, Dunlop is seeking to dethrone Ian Hutchinson from his five-win campaign of 2010.

IOMTT: Dunlop Eyes 130 MPH Lap…On a Supersport

04/02/2014 @ 1:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

IOMTT: Dunlop Eyes 130 MPH Lap...On a Supersport michael dunlop isle of man tt supersport bungalow richard mushet1 635x423

Maybe it is an attention-seeking headline, but the prospect of Michael Dunlop doing a 130 mph lap at the Isle of Man TT, on his Supersport-spec machine, is a titalating prospect. A 130 mph lap is a tall order, even in the Superbike and Superstock classes, where only a handful of riders have broken the 130 mph barrier.

Setting the Supersport TT record last year, Michael Dunlop is currently the fastest man around the Isle of Man TT course on a 600cc machine, with an average lap speed of 128.666 mph under his belt. To break 130 mph though, Dunlop will have to drop an additional 11 seconds from his fastest lap time, a tall order despite the 37.733 mile of race course to work with.

Milwaukee Yamaha Strikes Deal with Isle of Man TT – Ian Hutchinson & Josh Brookes Confirmed to Race

02/27/2014 @ 3:06 pm, by Bryan Delohery1 COMMENT

Milwaukee Yamaha Strikes Deal with Isle of Man TT   Ian Hutchinson & Josh Brookes Confirmed to Race Ian Hutchinson Macau GP Qualifying CGPM 635x423

After an announcement in early January that Milwaukee Power Tools had withdrawn its support of Shaun Muir’s Yamaha team, due to a major rule changes that restricted the use of aftermarket ECUs, it looked as though Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes might have had to sit out this year’s Isle of Man TT; and had the team been forced to run factory ECUs, it would have placed them at a serious disadvantage and left them unable to be competitive.

Although there is no word on exactly how the team managed to negotiate an exception to the new rule change, the Isle of Man TT Press Office has confirmed that Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes will be riding for the Milwaukee Yamaha Team in this year’s TT. Both riders are scheduled to compete in the Dainese Superbike TT, two Monster Energy Supersport TT races, and the Pokerstars Senior TT event.

Are You Ready for the Isle of Man TT?

02/13/2014 @ 11:52 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Are You Ready for the Isle of Man TT? John McGuinness Honda TT Legends pit 635x425

We have a little over three months before the 2014 Isle of Man TT, but as you may have noticed on Asphalt & Rubber, the news is just heating up about this iconic road race.

Any TT is worth remembering, as each race is a very special event for those who witness them. That being said though, 2014 is shaping up to be an important year as the TT goes through a series of transitions.

With only six more TT race wins until he ties Joey Dunlop’s record, John McGuinness is the man to beat on race day, and Mr. McPint is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

McGuinness does have some staunch competition though, namely Michael Dunlop. The nephew to Joey, Michael won four races in the 2013 gathering, and for 2014 Isle of Man TT, the duo are already being pitted against each other.

Hondas rule the roost at the Isle of Man, but BMW’s racing platform with the S1000RR has steadily improved. With Dunlop being backed by BMW Motorrad this year, he will have some stout machinery at his disposal as he takes on McGuinness and Honda.

It should be a cracking race. To further whet your appetite, the IOMTT has put out a goosebump generating video, for your road racing pleasure. Enjoy.