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.

WSBK Concludes Three Days of Testing in Portimao

01/28/2011 @ 9:13 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

WSBK Concludes Three Days of Testing in Portimao Jonathan Rea Castrol Honda WSBK test Portimao 635x599

Posting the fastest time of the official World Superbike test in Portugal, Jakub Smrz was the fastest man at Portimao. A feat in its own right, Smrz’s accomplishment is compounded by the fact that the Portuguese track saw three days of continuously changing weather. In a climate that kept the bikes off the track, and the riders bored in the garages, Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty rounded out the fastest three riders at Portimao, with times set also on Wednesday afternoon. The first day was fair, though conditions worsened greatly overnight, making Thursday morning entirely unappealing for test laps. Luckily, Friday dried out through the afternoon, but no one was able to best Smrz’s early mark of 1:43.503 during the testing sessions.

All too often winter testing provides plenty of data for the teams and riders, but not nearly enough for journalists and fans who wish to prognosticate. While teams might focus on a certain sector during one lap and another the next, they hide their own flaws and keep their best performances to themselves. Combined with poor weather conditions, a rider sitting out to recover from surgery (Chris Vermeulen), and an entire team testing at another location, the WSBK winter test leaves very little actual story to tell before the start of the racing season.

2010 Portuguese GP MotoGP Infographic

11/04/2010 @ 5:47 pm, by Peter Lombardi1 COMMENT

Toni Elias Signs With LCR Honda – Returns to MotoGP

10/31/2010 @ 5:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Toni Elias Signs With LCR Honda   Returns to MotoGP Toni Elias Indianapolis GP Moto2jpg 635x425

Reigning Moto2 World Champion Toni Elias will return to the big show for the 2011 season, as the Spanish rider has secured a contract with the LCR Honda satellite team. Elias has been on fire this season in Moto2, easily establishing himself as the dominate rider in the class. Looking to secure Moto2 as the feeder series for MotoGP, Dorna is rumored to have helped secure Elias’s return to premiere racing, after he lost his ride in the San Carlo Gresini Honda squad in 2009.

Torrential Rain Cancels MotoGP Qualifying at Estoril

10/30/2010 @ 5:34 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Torrential Rain Cancels MotoGP Qualifying at Estoril Estoril Portuguese GP MotoGP rain 1 635x457

The S.S. MotoGP set sail this weekend, as the Estoril GP looked more like a regatta than a GP race with all the water on the track. A monsoon storm has hit Portugal, causing two for the four practice sessions, including Saturday’s qualifying session, to be canceled because of the inclement weather.

As such Sunday’s GP race grid, for all the racing classes, will be comprised from each rider’s best practice time, which for Jorge Lorenzo is good news, as the Spanish rider ties Jorge “Aspar” Martinez for having the most pole positions from a Spaniard. Also benefitting from cancelled qualifier is American Nicky Hayden, who will start from the second position on Sunday’s grid.

Carlos Checa Comes Back to MotoGP, Riding for Pramac Ducati at Estoril And Valencia – Replaces Mika Kallio

10/14/2010 @ 10:32 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Carlos Checa Comes Back to MotoGP, Riding for Pramac Ducati at Estoril And Valencia   Replaces Mika Kallio Carlos Checa Althea Ducati 635x422

Now before we get ahead of ourselves, we should preface that Carlos Checa is not making a MotoGP comeback, but the former GP rider will ride the last two rounds of the 2010 MotoGP season. Checa has just signed a two-year contract renewal with Althea Ducati, after having a very strong season on the satellite Ducati squad, and has impressed many top-level players in the Ducati squad. The same however cannot be said of Mika Kallio, who looked to be a promising upcoming rider in his rookie year last season, has been an utter disappointment this season, and currently sits last in the standings of full-time riders.

Pramac Ducati, which despite its satellite status is basically the factory training ground for Ducati Corse, has obviously struggled this year as well, and would like to at least finish the season on a high note. Inviting Carlos Checa out to Mugello on Tuesday, the Spanish rider got rewarded for his hard work in WSBK, and took the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 out for a romp. According to the Spanish media, Checa has been given the green light to race for Pramac in Estoril and Valencia instead of Kallio. There has however been no official word from Ducati on the rider switch.

Video: Max Neukirchner Escapes a Nasty Highside During the Portimao Superpole

03/30/2010 @ 12:40 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Video: Max Neukirchner Escapes a Nasty Highside During the Portimao Superpole Max Neukirchner Portimao WSBK 560x371

Max Neukirchner was a unlucky (or is it lucky?) man this weekend while World Superbike made a race weekend at Portimao. While racing during the Superpole event at the Portugese track, the German rider found himself and his Ten Kate Honda on the wrong end of a nasty highside. Cresting over the hill, you can see Neukirchner spin like a top, while his Honda CBR gets its rear wheel crushed. As you’ll see in the video after the jump, Neukirchner came out of the crash relatively unscathed, and was able to start Race 1 at Portimao.

Vermeulen Withdraws from WSBK Portimao Round

03/26/2010 @ 3:47 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Vermeulen Withdraws from WSBK Portimao Round Christopher cup of joe 560x373

After hoping he could make a return to World Superbike by the Portimao round, Christopher Vermeulen has had to resign today from taking part in the weekend’s races. The Australian rider has been nursing an injured knee since his crash at season opener at Phillip Island, and apparently is unable to ride around the injury this week at Portimao. Check his video on the announcement after the jump.

Spies Talks About World Superbike Championship

10/26/2009 @ 3:28 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Spies Talks About World Superbike Championship Ben Spies World Superbike Champion 560x371

The good folks at On The Throttle got a chance to talk to Ben Spies after the racing action at Portimao, Portugal, and have shared the video with us. Spies talks about the season, Haga, and his move into MotoGP. Video after the jump.

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.

MotoGP: Portuguese GP, Oh What a Difference a Day Makes in Estoril

10/05/2009 @ 7:35 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Portuguese GP, Oh What a Difference a Day Makes in Estoril Valentino Rossi MotoGP Estoril Portuguese GP 560x401

MotoGP racing hit Estoril Portugal this weekend, and all eyes were on Casey Stoner as he took to motorcycle racing for the first time since taking three races off to help sort out his medical condition. Stoner’s return provided a quick reprieve to the Fiat-Yamaha camp, where riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo continue to battle for precious Championship points. With a 1-2 qualifying, Sunday’s race easily telegraphed itself to be a good one, and it didn’t disappoint. Spoilers and race results after the jump.