Photos: Valentino Rossi’s Special Misano Helmet, 2014

The San Marino GP is truly Valentino Rossi’s home MotoGP round, and tradition sees him sporting yet another special helmet for the event. This year Aldo Drudi has focused his design on the people close to Rossi’s life, with the helmet also sporting the phrase “Misano ci dà una mano”, meaning “Misano gives you a hand”. A colorful piece, Rossi’s AGV Pista helmet is adorned with the handprints of the mechanics of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. There are also the paw prints of his beloved dogs Cesare and Cecilia, as well as his cat Rossano. You will also notice two sets of lips, from the two women currently in Rossi’s life, his mother Stefania and his girlfriend Linda. The last mark is a thumbprint from Aldo Drudi himself, a long time friend and designer for The Doctor.

2015 Yamaha FJ-09 Spotted in CARB Filings

We were already tipped off to the Yamaha FJ-09 in Yamaha’s trademark filings with the US government, the bike’s design has also recently been outed in European trademark filings, and now the supposed three-cylinder sport-tourer has been confirmed for 2015 by the California Air Resources Board. Featuring the same displacement as the Yamaha FZ-09, it is a safe bet that Yamaha’s triple goes unchanged for the FJ-09, with the differences between the two bikes likely being mostly aesthetic. The CARB filing also lists two model numbers, which the astute will notice as being two color options for the FJ-09; and not two separate models coming from Yamaha, as other reports have indicated. This is normal from Yamaha North America.

Aprilia Will Return to MotoGP in 2015 with Gresini Racing

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team. Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.

Q&A: Mike Leitner – Pedrosa’s Crew Chief Talks Strategy

Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP. What Leitner does not talk about is the possibility that Pedrosa could decide to look for a new crew chief for 2015 and beyond. It was a question I would have liked to have asked, but I was told that the topic was officially off limits, including tangential questions (such as how Leitner felt the crew chief change had worked out for Valentino Rossi). Despite not being able to ask directly about that question, the interview with Leitner provided a fascinating insight into MotoGP racing.

Mercedes-AMG to Take a Minority Interest in MV Agusta?

News of Mercedes-AMG eyeing an acquisition of MV Agusta have been circulating for some time now, likely as the deal has continued to evolve between the two parties. Now, Italy’s reliable Motociclismo is reporting that AMG has agreed to purchase a minority position, likely around 20% of the company, the announcement of which will be made at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The deal shouldn’t see too much involvement from Mercedes-AMG in the affairs of MV Agusta, however the stock purchase will certainly put some much need capital in the Italian motorcycle company’s coffers.

2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner – More Than an Update

For the 2015 model year, the Honda VFR800X Crossrunner is getting a massive update from Big Red. As such, the 800cc V4 engine on the Crossrunner sees more horsepower (104.6 peak) and more mid-range torque added, new design aesthetics, longer suspension (+25mm) , and new wheels and brakes also get updates for 2015. Other highlights for the 2015 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner include Honda’s Selectable Torque Control system (HTSC), ABS brakes, full LED lighting, self-cancelling indicators, and heated grips, which Honda hopes will help ADV buyers consider the Japanese brand. With these changes, the 2015 Honda Crossrunner pushes further into the adventure side of the touring equation, making the Crossrunner an attractive sport/ADV model from Honda.

Matchless Model X Reloaded – Blending Old with New

Two years ago we spoke of the rebirth of the Matchless motorcycle brand, and today we see the first fruits of that company’s labor. Debuting three renderings that depict a future model, we get to see our first glimpse of the Matchless Model X Reloaded – a motorcycle that blends both the modern technology of today with the iconic lines of the British marque’s past. Borrowing its name from the Matchless Model X, the Model X Reloaded keeps some of the 1920′s motorcycle’s aesthetic, helping connect the brand of the past to the company of the future. Other details are thin, though we do know that the Matchless Model X Reloaded will have an S&S X-Wedge v-twin motor with 1,916cc of displacement.

Honda Is Recalling 126,000 Goldwings

American Honda has filed a recall with NHTSA, which sees the recall of 126,000 Honda Goldwing motorcycles. The recall comes about because the rear brake of the Honda Goldwing may drag after the brakes have been released. With 533+ bikes already experiencing the problem, Honda’s recall affects GL1800 bikes built between 2001 and 2010, and also affects GL1800A bikes built between 2001 and 2005. Since dragging the rear brake could cause a crash, and because the added heat generation could cause a fire (four instances have already occurred), Honda has recalled the Goldwing, though has not determined a remedy at this time for the situation.

TrakTape – Track Riders, You’ll Want to See This

Straight from the department of “now why didn’t I think of that” we bring you the miracle of TrakTape. Pre-cut model-specific adhesive covers for your headlight, tail light, and signals, TrakTape makes getting your bike onto the track a snap, and looks aces in the process. For now, TrakTape seems to only have a few Ducati models in its arsenal, though it seems logical to see other makes and model hitting their store in the future. At $20/sheet, you might balk at the price, though consider that a roll of good gaffer tape runs close to $30 — so, the four pack at $70 might make more sense for the budget racers. The only thing we’d like to see from TrakTape would be sheets for just headlights, just tail lights, just signals, etc. I can remember taping my bike’s headlight and tail light all the time, but usually removed the signals.

Yamaha MT-09 Triple Cross Over Concept by Oberdan Bezzi

We’re really digging the FZ-07/FZ-09 based concepts from Oberdan Bezzi, if you haven’t noticed. It is probably because the FZ-09 is such an affordable, yet potent package, from Yamaha that it begs to be built-up and modded upon. We’ve already seen street tracker and world crosser concepts from Bezzi, and this “Triple Cross Over” design builds upon the same themes as before. We already know that Yamaha has gotten the hint, and is expected to show a TDM-style version of the FZ-09/MT-09 at this year’s trade shows, but here is another design to whet our appetites and pique our imaginations. The Triple Cross Over fills the gap left by the upcoming TDM model, and is more of a scrambler than an ADV bike.

Honda to Field Eight Riders at the Japanese GP

09/19/2011 @ 3:17 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Honda to Field Eight Riders at the Japanese GP Honda Aragon 635x421

Make no doubts about it, Honda is set to make a statement at the rescheduled Japanese GP on October 2nd. After much hemming and hawing over whom would and would not race at Motegi, virtually every rider in the MotoGP paddock has been confirmed to be in attendance at Japan early next month, including Casey Stoner (according to Honda at least).

Whether it is because the riders have begun to believe the bevy of reports that Motegi and the Fukushima nuclear plant are safe, or the fact that the Twin Ring Circuit has already played host to several high-profile events, or even if it is the simple reality that Japanese companies like Honda and Yamaha have enormously long memories regarding issues of pride and honor, the fact of the matter is that not only will the MotoGP grid be as full as possible (there are question marks regarding Loris Capirossi’s shoulder), but Honda will field two more riders for the Japanese GP.

Yamaha Confirms Jorge Lorenzo Will Race at Motegi

09/12/2011 @ 1:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Yamaha Confirms Jorge Lorenzo Will Race at Motegi Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Misano MotoGP. 635x427

In a short statement, Yamaha Racing confirmed that factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will compete in the Japanese GP in late-October. While both Yamaha riders have been reluctant about going to Motegi, they, like the rest of the MotoGP paddock, have been made uneasy by concerns over radiation reports, suspicions of the Japanese government candor on the issue, and safety considerations about the state of the Fukushima nuclear reactor.

With MotoGP riders threatening a near mutiny over Dorna’s pressure to go on with the Japanese GP, at the center of the riders’ push-back were Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner. With both Stoner and Lorenzo continually softening their position on Motegi over the course of the past few months, Lorenzo now is the first of the ringleaders to let the shoe drop that he will compete in the Japanese round. With the Aragon GP this weekend, it will be interesting to hear what has brought around the young Spanish rider, though we have our guesses.

HRC Clarifies Nakamoto’s Statement – Suzuka Not an Option

08/30/2011 @ 8:01 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

HRC Clarifies Nakamotos Statement   Suzuka Not an Option Suzuka Circuit Map 635x529

With issues surrounding MotoGP going to Motegi still not fully resolved, the idea of racing at Suzuka continues to touch the lips of some riders, publications, and fans. Completely ignoring the fact that Suzuka is not FIM homologated, and was removed from the MotoGP calendar after the death of Daijiro Kato, the idea of “picking the next famous GP track in Japan” gets banded about as a solution to radiation and safety concerns at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit.

Talking to a group of assembled journalists at the MotoGP test at Brno, HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto made it very clear, though through his labored english, that racing at Suzuka was not even an idea on the table, citing the aforementioned concerns over safety and homologation. Something must have gotten lost in translation however, as some Italian publications quoted Nakamoto-san implying the opposite, and that HRC would support MotoGP racing at Suzuka.

Feeling the situation had gotten out of hand, HRC has issued a statement clarifying Nakamoto’s position, the position of HRC, and the issues surrounding a race at Suzuka. Statement after the jump.

Stoner Waivers on Motegi – Announces Baby is on the Way

08/12/2011 @ 10:56 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Stoner Waivers on Motegi   Announces Baby is on the Way Adriana Casey Stoner

The MotoGP World Championship resumed in full-force on Thursday in Brno, as the summer break concluded and the Czech GP began. The first gathering of the MotoGP riders since the official independent report on the safety concerning the Motegi circuit, all eyes were on Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo to see if their stance had changed regarding the postponed Japanese GP. With both riders softening their stance on boycotting the Japanese MotoGP round, it was Stoner who dropped the bigger bombshell, announcing that he and wife Adriana were expecting their first child. Saying that he would further consider racing at Motegi, Stoner admitted that the news he was about to become a family man influenced his decision to race at Motegi.

Preliminary Motegi Report Gives the All-Clear for MotoGP

07/26/2011 @ 10:29 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Preliminary Motegi Report Gives the All Clear for MotoGP Yamaha Japanese GP

The FIM’s preliminary report on the safety concerning the Twin Rings Circuit at Motegi was announced after the conclusion of the US GP at Laguna Seca this week, and confirming what many had already expected, the study concludes that it is safe for the MotoGP riders to go race at the upcoming Japanese GP. Showing that there were no health concerns from radiation in and around the Motegi circuit, Dorna has said it will formally announce its intention to hold the Japanese GP as planned, with its rescheduled time in early October.

Jorge Lorenzo: Japan Yes, Motegi No

07/21/2011 @ 1:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Jorge Lorenzo: Japan Yes, Motegi No Jorge Lorenzo Motegi boycott

Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you live from Laguna Seca for the rest of the week and weekend, and upon our arrival at the historic Californian track, we had a moment to talk to Jorge Lorenzo about his recent statement that he would not race at Motegi, even before Dorna’s independent safety review of the Japanese track was published.

Responding to the criticism that his statement ran counter to the “With You Japan” message Yamaha and the rest of the MotoGP paddock have been showing, Lorenzo made his position clear that he was for Japan, but not Motegi. Perhaps hinting that another circuit should be chosen for the Japanese GP.

MotoGP Riders to Boycott Motegi Round

07/18/2011 @ 8:37 am, by Jensen Beeler30 COMMENTS

MotoGP Riders to Boycott Motegi Round Red Flag Mugello MotoGP

News out of Germany this weekend is that 15 of the 17 riders racing in the MotoGP Championship have threatened to boycott the Japanese GP at Motegi later this year because of safety concerns. Lead by Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, who publicly announced Saturday at the post-qualifying debriefing that they would not race in Japan, the riders are worried about radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, despite Motegi officials (essentially HRC) declaring the Twin Rings circuit safe. The planned boycott also comes ahead of an independent study being conducted on behalf of MotoGP, which is supposed to be an objective assessment of the track’s safety for host MotoGP (the results of the study are due to go public on July 31st).

Dorna 90% Sure Japanese GP is a Go – Riders Disagree

05/23/2011 @ 12:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Dorna 90% Sure Japanese GP is a Go   Riders Disagree Valentino Rossi stern face 635x422

Depending on whom you talk to in the MotoGP paddock, you might get a different impression on the state of the Japanese GP, set to be held at the Motegi Twin Rings circuit this coming October. As we are all aware, the tragic events sustained by the Japanese people after their country was hit by earthquake, tsunami, and then nuclear disaster have been on the minds of citizens around the world.

While Japan begins the process of rebuilding, the country still has to contend with the Fukushima plant, which continues to leak radiation. While MotoGP won’t make an official announcement about its plans to race in Japan until later this summer, the camps are clearly divided on whether the series should abstain (for a second year in a row) on visiting the island nation, or make the flyaway race to Motegi.

MotoGP: No Replacement Race if Japanese GP Falls Through

04/22/2011 @ 7:27 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

MotoGP: No Replacement Race if Japanese GP Falls Through qatar gp qualifying scott jones 2

Ever since the Great East Japan Earthquake, there’s been a great deal of speculation in the MotoGP paddock about the status of the Japanese GP. Although postponed until October, the reality that the Motegi circuit will be able to safely host a MotoGP event is still dubious in many minds, and accordingly names of alternate venues have been banded about as replacements for the Japanese round. At the top of the list has been Istanbul, which last hosted MotoGP back in 2007.

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has seemingly put the kibosh on the Turkish GP taking over for the Twin Ring Circuit though, saying that if the Japanese GP cannot be undertaken, the round would be dropped altogether from the MotoGP calendar. Such an action would leave only 17 stops for MotoGP’s racing season, instead of the customary 18 rounds.

MotoGP: Japanese GP Rescheduled

03/15/2011 @ 5:38 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Japanese GP Rescheduled Twin Ring Motegi Circuit 635x493

While the world holds its breath and watches Japan contend with the aftermath from an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, MotoGP has decided to give the island nation less things to worry about, rescheduling the Japanese GP that was to be held at the Twin Rings circuit in Motegi, Japan on April 24th, to later in the year on October 2nd.

While Dorna publicly announced yesterday that it would abide by whatever decision Japan would make in regards to hosting MotoGP in April, the reality is that the area surround Motegi that typical hosts the teams was ravaged by the earthquake. Reports also indicate that the Twin Rings circuit has actually been damaged from the natural disaster, further solidifying the decision to postpone the race.