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.

WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider

10/24/2009 @ 7:31 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Superpole Qualifying at Portimao Builds Confidence for Hopeful Rider Ben Spies Qualifying Portimao WSBK 560x369

It’s the qualifying session we’ve all been waiting for: the last Superpole of the 2009 season at Portimao, Portugal. A vetting process for tomorrow’s races, today’s Superpole gives us a glimpse into how this amazing season might end. How close would Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga be on the starting line come Sunday? Who would be faster? By what margin? And lastly, would Ben Spies be able to take the outright pole record for World Superbike racing? Those answers after the jump.

Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship – Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga

10/23/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Friday Practice at Portimao Could Predict WSBK Championship   Spies 4/10ths Faster Than Haga portimao friday rea 560x375

We typically don’t cover the Free Practice/Qualifying sessions in World Superbike, but considering that the entire season will come down to Sunday’s race, we’re making an exception. With QP1 in the bag already at Portimao, we get some insight into how the grid could come together for the last race of the WSBK season, and the results might surprise some people. More after the jump.

WSBK: Race 2 at Magny-Cours is Brought to You by the French Word “Merde!”

10/05/2009 @ 8:55 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 2 at Magny Cours is Brought to You by the French Word Merde! WSBK Race 3 Magny Cours Max Biaggi 560x372

You have to appreciate the two race program in World Superbike. Not only does it give fans a chance to see their favorites battle it out twice in one day, but it also gives riders a second chance to make a grab for the podium. With only a handful of points separating Spies and Haga, the points that Race 2 provides will definitely determine the WSBK Championship outcome. Spoilers and results after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Magny-Cours Shows a Points Teeter-Totter for the Championship

10/05/2009 @ 8:26 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 1 at Magny Cours Shows a Points Teeter Totter for the Championship WSBK Race 1 Magny Cours Ben Spies 560x428

Eclipsing the excitement in MotoGP this week, World Superbike has heated up to be a great series to watch in these final two outings. Recently signed to Tech3 Yamaha, Ben Spies looked for W in Race 1 to try and take back the Championship lead from Noriyuki Haga.

Always a bridesmaid, and never a bride, Haga entered Race 1 also looking for a win, to help further his points lead in what could be his first WSBK Championship trophy. Johnny Rea on the other hand, entered Race 1 to try and crash into one of the top riders, and spoil the whole series for everyone else. Continue after the jump to find who was successful in their endeavors.

Haga & Fabrizio Re-Sign With Ducati Corse for 2010

09/29/2009 @ 3:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Haga & Fabrizio Re Sign With Ducati Corse for 2010 xerox ducati wsbk kyalmai 2009 560x371

Ducati Corse has re-signed both of its World Superbike riders, Noriyuki Haga & Michel Fabrizio, for the 2010 season. No word on the details of the rider’s contracts, but the move won’t cause any surprises in the WSBK paddock. Xerox Ducati has been dominating the World Superbike series, save for one man, Ben Spies.

WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair

09/27/2009 @ 6:13 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 2 at Imola Strictly an Italian Affair Michel Fabrizio Superpole WSBK Imola1 560x370

Race 2 promised to have more close racing, as many riders in Race 1 proved they could race near the top (not to mention, many riders in WSBK have contracts up for renewal). With Imola being the home track for the Ducati loyal, a lot of fans we’re waiting to see the red bikes up front.

Many Xerox Ducati fans were also keen to see if Haga could retake the lead in the World Superbike Championship standings with a strong showing at Imola. They would not be disappointed, a full race report after the jump.

WSBK: Race 1 at Imola Takes the World Superbike Championship Up Another Level

09/27/2009 @ 5:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

WSBK: Race 1 at Imola Takes the World Superbike Championship Up Another Level Imola WSBK Race 1 Haga 560x372

Racing went off without a hitch this Sunday, as the Imola circuit seemed devoid of earlier traction problems that almost sidelined the racing earlier this week. With Imola sitting literally in Ducati’s backyard, all eyes were on the Xerox Ducati squad, and Noriyuki Haga.

Haga, who trails Ben Spies for the first time this season coming into Imola, was especially keen on grabbing back some points from the American. Lastly, a new addition to the WSBK paddock took the form of Marco Simoncelli, who was filling in on the factory Aprilia team for the injured Shinya Nakano. A full race report with spoilers after the jump.

WSBK: Superpole Overcomes Slippery Imola Track

09/26/2009 @ 9:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Superpole Overcomes Slippery Imola Track Michel Fabrizio Superpole WSBK Imola 560x370

With track conditions at the Imola causing a near mutiny during the practice sessions, there was a panic in the WSBK paddock as to whether racing would occur at the Bologna circuit this weekend. After track officials cleaned the Imola tarmac, it became too slippery to ride upon. Whether due to the mixture of oil and water on the track, or the absence of the usual layers of rubber forming on the race line, the conditions caused riders to refuse to take to the track over safety concerns.

Commenting about the conditions, Ben Spies stated the course was slipperier than full wet conditions. Max Biaggi was also heard saying that the course was too slippery for racing, and that Sunday’s races could not take place on the course under these circumstances. Despite this, WSBK Superpole action still occurred, read on for more.

WSBK: Race 2 at Nürburgring Continues to Show Championship Plagued by Crashes

09/06/2009 @ 8:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Race 2 at Nürburgring Continues to Show Championship Plagued by Crashes WSBK Race 2 Nurburgring 560x409

Race 2 continues World Superbike’s tour of Germany and the Nürburgring. With the balance of the Championship standings still tipping precariously after Race 1, Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga were both looking for a victory that would give them a sure lead in the Championship points.

WSBK: Race 1 at Nürburgring a Fight for the Championship Rekindled

09/06/2009 @ 8:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

WSBK: Race 1 at Nürburgring a Fight for the Championship Rekindled WSBK Race 1 Nurburgring 560x372

With the long summer break, everyone in World Superbike was waiting to see what would happen to the Championship Standings while at Germany. With two races on each race day, Ben Spies would have two chances to chip away at Noriyuki Haga’s 7 point lead, and finally take control of the series. With Haga still on the mend, the Nürburgring seemed like it would be hostile ground for the Xerox Ducati rider, but any thoughts of Haga being a push-over were quickly dispelled by his lightning Superpole performance.