The last race of the season is always a little bit special. They are even more special when riders are still scrapping over the spoils, battling for titles, for positions, for honor.
There is much at stake at Valencia: a Moto3 title, second place in the MotoGP and Moto2 championships, and the team championship in MotoGP. Above all, though, there is victory, the glory of joining the elite band of Grand Prix winners. At the end of the day, that is what motivates motorcycle racers most on any given Sunday.
Top billing at Valencia is the race which is first, but with the most at stake. On Sunday, Jack Miller and Alex Marquez will slug it out for the 2014 Moto3 World Championship. The race at Sepang set up a fantastic season finale, with Miller riding an intimidating race to cut Marquez’s championship lead. Just 11 points separate the two men, putting Marquez easily within reach of the Australian.
Hiroshi Aoyama is to become a test rider for Honda in 2015. The future of the Japanese rider was uncertain after Eugene Laverty was signed to race with the Aspar team for next year, and Aoyama’s options in the MotoGP paddock were limited.
As a rider who has spent almost his entire career with Honda, including winning the last ever 250cc championship in 2009, Aoyama was the logical choice to take on a role as test rider.
After only three days at home following the Aragon weekend, I was packing my suitcase again and leaving for Australia. The race was still over two weeks away, but I was going for a holiday in Australia with Clare first.
I’ve been to Australia a few times. Clare has family in Sydney and spent some time traveling when she finished university, but on our previous visits neither of us had been to Queensland.
After some deliberation we decided on some time in Brisbane and Cairns before driving to Port Douglas. Port Douglas being a perfect base to visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
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.
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.
Where Ducati took inspiration from its MotoGP program, kept the basic elements found there, and created an entirely new machine, the Honda RC213V-S prototype is quite the opposite.
Honda has released zero, and I mean zero, information about the RC213V-S project, but it would not surprise me in the least if each bike was an ex-race bike with lights slapped onto it, as it was put out to pasture so-to-speak.
That might be an intriguing proposition, actually, but the point is that for all the delay and mystery around the RC213V-S, it’s surprising that the finished (or near-finished) product is such an obvious one. It borders on being the easy way out of a two-wheeled 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.
Still officially considered a prototype (along with the Honda Africa Twin off-road machine), the RC213V-s is essentially what you would imagine, an RC213V MotoGP bike with lights.
Brought onto the EICMA stage by Marc Marquez, the RC213V-S is a stunner in its pure carbon fairings, but we think the Japanese flag livery on the static machine takes the cake.
Honda isn’t talking specs at this time, and hopefully we will know more by the time the Tokyo Motor Show rolls around. So, we’ll just have to drool over these photos until then. Check them out, after the jump.
Before I begin I would like to apologise to the readers of Asphalt & Rubber for my tardiness in bringing you the Aragon story. When I arrived home from Aragon I went straight on holiday to Australia.
I’m finally sitting down to write this from a bar in Gatwick Airport, as I wait for my flight back to the Isle of Man following the Malaysian race.
Apologies over, back to Aragon.
I’d been looking forward to the Aragon race for most of the year. The track looked great and I’d been able to get a room in a house rented by ace MotoGP photographer Andrew Wheeler. There were several other photographers and journalists staying there, so it had the makings of an excellent weekend.
The circuit at Aragon is out in the middle of nowhere. The closest and most convenient airport for me was Barcelona which was around two and half hour drive away.