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.

Race Highlights from the 2014 Macau GP

11/21/2014 @ 1:24 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Race Highlights from the 2014 Macau GP stuart easton 2014 macau grand prix CPGM 635x423

The 48th annual Macau Grand Prix was underway this past weekend, rounding out the 2014 road racing season, all the way on the other side of the world from the normal Irish and Manx roadways.

As much of a spectacle as its European counterparts, the Macau GP is set in the downtown area of the Special Administrative Region of Macu, and is proper elbow-to-elbow motorcycle racing.

A spectacle to see with the tight corners and dense cityscape, we regrettably didn’t cover the race this year due to a communication error on my part with our correspondent (my pay has been docked accordingly).

To try and at least make up for that error, we have for you the video highlights of the race, which Stuart Easton won quite comfortably, bringing his tally of Macau GP wins up to four now.

Were These the Luckiest Guys at the Macau GP?

11/25/2013 @ 3:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Were These the Luckiest Guys at the Macau GP? Macau GP crash 11 635x422

Proper road racing is a dangerous game, as the spectacle unfolds upon all of the uncertainty that comes with public roads, rather than the controlled environment of a proper closed-course racing circuit.

The competitors you find at events like the Irish road races, the Isle of Man TT, or the Macau Grand Prix are a unique breed to be doing what they do, where they do it; and if you talk to many of them, the prospect of an untimely ending is something that has already been factored into the cost of what that choose to do.

No one goes looking for an early death, of course, but the realities of the situation are ever-present. Just last year, Luis Carreira lost his life while qualifying at the Macau GP, a reminder of how dangerous the armco-laced Guia race track can be for motorcyclists.

Thankfully the 2013 Macau Grand Prix was without major incident, but we did have a close-call on the first lap between Horst Saiger and Marc Fissette. The event’s photographers captured the contact and subsequent crashes with their cameras, giving us a frame-by-frame perspective into what was thankfully just a bad day at the office for these two riders.

Watch the 2013 Macau Grand Prix Right Here

11/18/2013 @ 7:12 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Watch the 2013 Macau Grand Prix Right Here ian hutchinson macau gp gcs 635x423

What? You mean the 2013 Macau GP wasn’t on your television, despite the fact you get like a billion channels nowadays? And one flying-lap is simply not enough to ease your motolust?

Don’t worry, if you missed the road racing action this weekend in China’s Special Administrative Region, we’ve got your back. Someone in China has broken the Great Firewall, and uploaded the race to YouTube.

The racing is fierce on this nearly four-mile long circuit, and the fairytale ending is worth the price of admission alone. Enjoy over an hour of racing coverage.

GyroCam: Take a Flying Lap Around the Macau GP Circuit

11/17/2013 @ 2:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

GyroCam: Take a Flying Lap Around the Macau GP Circuit didier grams macau gp gyroscope video 635x355

The Macau GP is just nuts, let’s just get that thought out and up front. A proper road race on, you know, the road…it boggles the mind to think that competitors at Macau share the circuit’s near four-mile course length with each other, unlike the Isle of Man TT’s single-rider time trial format.

This of course means riders are angling for apexes with each other, all the while there is virtually no run-off to be seen. No margin for error, triple-digit speeds, and 200+ horsepower machines — like we said, the Macau GP is just nuts.

Don’t just take our word for it, have a look for yourself with this excellent on-board footage from eighth-place finisher Didier Grams and his gyros-stablized camera. It’s epic to watch the armco go flying by while this talented German rider does his thing.

Ian Hutchinson Wins the 2013 Macau GP

11/16/2013 @ 11:23 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Ian Hutchinson Wins the 2013 Macau GP ian hutchinson michael rutter macau gp GCS 635x422

Defying the odds against him, Ian Hutchinson has won the 2013 Macau GP, beating fierce competitor Michael Rutter in the shortened race. Hutchinson took the lead from Rutter on the fourth lap of fifteen, though a crash on the eleventh lap by Dean Harrison brought the Macau GP to an early end.

Thankfully Harrison was unhurt by the crash, though his bike was in the middle of the course, and forced race officials to red flag the race. Despite the premature ending, there can be no question that it was Hutchinson’s day, as the man from Bingley had a solid two-second gap over Rutter.

Coming off an eighteen month recovery period, Hutchinson’s win reconfirms the young Yorkshireman as a true talent in road racing, with today’s Macau GP win adding another impressive entry on Hutchinson’s already illustrious resumé, which includes a clean sweep of the 2010 Isle of Man TT’s five solo-class races.

“It’s probably one of the most special wins I’ve ever had with what’s gone on in the last few years, but hopefully now I can move on to carrying on back where I left off three years ago,” said Hutchinson after the race.

Ian Hutchinson Takes Pole Position for Macau GP

11/15/2013 @ 7:13 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Ian Hutchinson Takes Pole Position for Macau GP Ian Hutchinson Macau GP Qualifying CGPM 635x423

The Macau GP is this weekend, and it is already shaping up to be a great event after today’s qualifying. Normally this is a race that Michael Rutter dominates (the Brit has eight Macau GP race wins to his name), but this year sees a new name on the leaderboard at the conclusion of the two qualifying sessions: Ian Hutchinson.

The only man to ever win all five solo races at the Isle of Man TT, Hutchinson was all the talk in 2010, but the Bingly man has seen his last two seasons hampered with tough recoveries from leg injuries.

Though finally healthy, many were beginning to wonder if Hutchy had lost his pace on a motorbike — his performance today on the Milwaukee Yamaha YZF-R1 has ended that talk though.

American Brandon Cretu Does “150 in the City” at Macau

12/17/2012 @ 4:48 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

American Brandon Cretu Does 150 in the City at Macau Brandon Cretu Macau GP

Still fairly new to the road racing scene, Brandon Cretu is a three-time Isle of Man TT racer, and for 2012 the young racer was one of only two Americans on the Macau GP grid.

Coming off a big crash at the TT during the fourth lap of the Superbike race, we are still pretty amazed that Cretu made the trek down to Macau, let alone got back in the saddle for another road race this season. Road racers, they’re a special breed apparently.

Slapping some GoPros to his Hel Performance Honda CBR1000RR, Cretu gives another perspective of what a lap around Macau is like (read his race report here).

Trackside Tuesday: Casinos, Armco, and Road Racing

11/27/2012 @ 10:55 am, by Tony Goldsmith4 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: Casinos, Armco, and Road Racing Micahel Rutter Macau GP Tony Goldsmith

Take the Monaco F1 without the glitz and glamor, throw in a Vegas casino or two, add some Chinese culture, with a nod to Portugal, and you have got a rough picture of Macau and the Macau Grand Prix. A former Portuguese colony with gambling revenue that surpasses Las Vegas, Macau remains an anomaly in this area of the world, where conformity to the Chinese central Government is more the norm.

The racing takes place on the 3.8 mile armco lined Guia Circuit, a street circuit with long wide fast straights leading into tight corners that snake past casinos and high-rise buildings. Part of the thrill of watching real road racing is the ability to get up close to the action, sadly that is not possible at Macau mainly due to the tight nature of the track. Spectating is therefore pretty much limited to three large grandstands all within the first mile of the track, unless of course you are fortunate enough to have a media pass.

Given the obvious dangers, it takes a certain breed of motorcycle racer to race at Macau. A glance through the list of past winners reads as a recent who’s who of road racing legends, who between them boast more wins at the Isle of Man TT and North West 200 than I can count. There is even a former World 500cc Champion and multiple World Superbike Champion included in the list.

Video: Ride the Macau GP with Horst Saiger

11/21/2012 @ 5:26 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Video: Ride the Macau GP with Horst Saiger 2012 Macau GP start Tony Goldsmith

Road racing is mental. I mean real road racing…where motorcycle racers compete on actual city streets, with zero run-off and off-track obstacles abound. Having been to the Isle of Man TT, and seen the Manx course up-close, I can attest to the special breed of rider that chooses to compete in motorcycle road racing events — I dare say I even understand the allure to such an act (you will never, however, see me partake in such a racing event).

Looking at Tony Goldsmith’s photos from the 59th Macau GP though, words fail to describe the lunacy taking place here with the tight and narrow Macanese course. Luckily, my failure as a writer can be overcome through the miracle of technology, in this case: YouTube.

Take 31.25 minutes out of your day, and ride with Austria’s Horst Saiger for all 10 laps of the 2012 Macau GP. Watch him trade corners with Martin Jessop and Conor Cummins on his Saiger-Racing.com Kawasaki ZX-10R in what may be our favorite video of the year, after the jump of course (yes, there is a jump!).

The 2012 Macau GP with Tony Goldsmith

11/20/2012 @ 4:03 pm, by Tony Goldsmith10 COMMENTS