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.

MotoGP: Cardion AB Says Point the Blame Elsewhere

09/18/2012 @ 3:49 pm, by David Emmett23 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Cardion AB Says Point the Blame Elsewhere Karel Abraham Cardion AB Misano Scott Jones

After the chaos at the start of Sunday’s MotoGP race at Misano, it was inevitable that the hunt would be opened for someone to pin the blame on. With so much at stake, especially for Dani Pedrosa and the Repsol Honda team, the finger of blame was bound to get pointed at everyone. One person who appears to have come under attack from some quarters is Karel Abraham.

The Cardion AB rider was the original cause of the first start being called off, when his bike stalled on the grid after the starting lights had already been illuminated. This caused Race Direction to immediately step in and show flashing orange lights, in accordance with the FIM rules, but this happens so incredibly rarely that it caught everyone off guard. In the ensuing panic, Dani Pedrosa’s machine had problems with the front wheel, causing the Spaniard to be rolled off the grid, thereby forfeiting the pole position and being forced to start from the back of the grid.

In response to the accusations, Abraham’s team issued a press release today explaining the mechanical problem which caused Abraham to raise his hand, which in turn caused the start to be canceled. They state explicitly that Abraham acted exactly as demanded by the rules, to avoid danger to everyone on the grid.

Cardion AB also made it very clear that they cannot be held responsible for the problems which Pedrosa’s team suffered at the restart, saying explicitly in the statement: “Our team dealt with the situation in full compliance with MotoGP regulations. It is not our fault that the new situation resulted in chaos and the unintentional breach of the applicable regulations by HRC.” The full statement put out by the Cardion AB team is after the jump.

Schwantz Releases Another Statement about COTA & Dorna

09/14/2012 @ 12:34 pm, by David Emmett14 COMMENTS

Schwantz Releases Another Statement about COTA & Dorna Circuit of the Americas construction site 635x442

Kevin Schwantz has issued another statement in response to the press releases put out by both the Circuit of the Americas and Dorna, concerning his legal proceedings over the case. In the press release, Schwantz lays the blame for the situation at the feet of the Circuit of the Americas, and claims they attempted to obtain the contract to organize the MotoGP race in Texas by forcing him out of the deal with Dorna. The full statement issued by Kevin Schwantz is after the jump.

Official: Ben Spies & Andrea Iannone to Pramac Ducati

09/12/2012 @ 11:04 am, by Jensen Beeler26 COMMENTS

Official: Ben Spies & Andrea Iannone to Pramac Ducati Ben Spies MotoGP Laguna Seca Red Bull Scott Jones

The speculation on where Ben Spies will land for the 2013 MotoGP Championship can finally come to conclusion, as Ducati Corse has announced the signing of the American to its “Junior Team” for next season. Spies will be joined by Moto2’s Andrea Iannone, where the two riders will race out of the Pramac Racing garage, which has also renewed its partnership with Ducati. Both riders will use “official” equipment according to Ducati’s press release.

You may recall Ducati’s “Junior Team” strategy, where the satellite Ducati effort will be closely linked with the folks back at Borgo Panigale. It is Ducati Corse’s hope that having four closely equipped Desmosedici GP13 race bikes will aid in the development pace for the company’s MotoGP program. While Iannone is clearly a talent the team wants to develop for the future, the addition of Ben Spies to the Pramac squad ensures that a capable hand is on the bike from the onset.

Before taking the ride at Pramac Ducati, Spies was linked to a multitude of other offers, including Honda Gresini and Suzuki in MotoGP, as well as the factory BMW team in World Superbike. With each option having its drawbacks and advantages, Spies’ move to Ducati keeps him on factory/near-factory equipment, and perhaps more importantly, in the MotoGP paddock where better options could come to light for the 2014 season. Ducati Corse’s press release is after the jump.

WSBK: Liberty Racing Drops Jakub Smrz for Lorenzo Lanzi

09/07/2012 @ 2:14 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

WSBK: Liberty Racing Drops Jakub Smrz for Lorenzo Lanzi Jakub Smrz crash Silverstone WSBK 635x423

After its absence at the Moscow round, Effenbert Liberty Racing affirmed earlier this week that it would be participating in World Superbike’s Nürburgring round with all three of its riders. Always keeping things interesting though, the team has followed up that announcement today with the news that it has replaced Jakub Smrz with Italian rider Lorenzo Lanzi. This should surprise no one.

Rumored heavily to be in financial difficulty, after Effenbert reduced its support for the team after the round at Monza, today’s move is just the latest of many strange developments for the Liberty Racing squad, which showed so much promise earlier in the season, but has spiraled out of control ever since.

WSBK: Joan Lascorz & Kawasaki Talk for the First Time about the Crash at Imola

09/05/2012 @ 12:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

WSBK: Joan Lascorz & Kawasaki Talk for the First Time about the Crash at Imola Joan Lascorz WSBK Kawasaki 635x412

Recovering from the injuries he sustained while testing for Kawasaki at Imola, we learned earlier this year that Joan Lascorz was lucky to escape with his life from the frightful event, though he will never walk again. Suffering from paralysis from his abdomen down, the well-liked Spaniard is still recuperating, but has released a press release (along with Kawasaki) about the event, the months after it, and Jumbo’s coming future.

Recounting the incident, Lascorz also gives an insightful description of his current state of mind, and his thoughts about his road to a new life. The full press release is after the jump. It’s okay if you get a bit misty-eyed while reading it. We certainly did.

MotoGP: Casey Stoner to Undergo Surgery on Ankle – Out for the Czech GP at Brno

08/23/2012 @ 9:23 am, by David Emmett9 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Casey Stoner to Undergo Surgery on Ankle   Out for the Czech GP at Brno Indianapolis GP Sunday Jules Cisek 181 635x423

Casey Stoner is to return to Australia to have surgery on the ankle he damaged in the qualifying crash at Indianapolis. After studying the MRI scans made in Indianapolis, Stoner’s Australia doctors have advised him he needs surgery to correct the damaged ligaments he tore at Indy.

The move means that Stoner will definitely miss this weekend’s Czech Grand Prix at Brno. How quickly the reigning World Champion will return is uncertain, though the surgery will require several weeks to recover. Already 39 points behind Jorge Lorenzo in the title race, missing Brno will put Stoner at an almost insurmountable disadvantage in the defense of his championship.

Officially Official: Andrea Dovizioso to Ducati for Two Years

08/22/2012 @ 8:33 am, by Jensen Beeler27 COMMENTS

Officially Official: Andrea Dovizioso to Ducati for Two Years Indianapolis GP Sunday Jules Cisek 281 635x423

Confirming what everyone essentially already knew, Ducati Corse has announced that it has signed Andrea Dovizioso to its factory MotoGP team for the 2013 & 2014 seasons. Dovizioso will take the vacated seat of Valentino Rossi at Ducati Corse, a move that holds a bit of symmetry, since Rossi basically took Dovi’s planned spot at the factory Yamaha team just a few weeks ago.

Joining Nicky Hayden for at least next season, the American made it clear at the Indianapolis that both riders would auditioning for the #1 spot in the team this next season, though both are expected to aid in developing the Ducati Desmosedici into a more rideable race bike. Many suspect Ducati picked Dovizioso for his more traditional riding style, a sign the Italian company is now trying to mold its bike to the riders, and not the other way around.

WSBK: Liberty Racing Officially Skipping Russian Round

08/16/2012 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Liberty Racing Officially Skipping Russian Round Sylvain Guintoli Effenbert Liberty Racing 635x422

“In Soviet Russia, motorcycle race skips you” is how the joke should read. Confirming our earlier report, Liberty Racing has formally announced that it is skipping World Superbike’s Moscow round, which is two weeks away. Stating that the team will restructure itself for the future, Liberty Racing will be back on the track come the German World Superbike round, at the Nürburgring.

In addition to its restructuring process, Liberty Racing also cites Canadian rider Brett McCormick’s rehabilitation to riding form as a factor for its skipping of the Russian round. The more-than-slightly confusing press release is after the jump.

Nobby Clark Inducted into AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame

08/16/2012 @ 3:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Nobby Clark Inducted into AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame AMA Logo

Well, we can finally put the Nobby Clark saga behind us, as the famed motorcycle mechanic got the nod from his fellow Hall of Famers, and has been inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame with his supplemental voting ballot. A lightning rod for the larger issue of how members were nominated and voted into the AMHF, Nobby’s induction probably doesn’t surprise anyone who has been following the matter.

We imagine that Kenny Roberts Sr., and the slew of other prominent AMA figures who resigned their positions in the Hall of Fame, will backtrack on those statements, and everything will return back to normal, and the way it should be. That is of course, besides the whole part where the AMA and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame continued to like an old boys’ network, which on this issue got their hands caught in the cookie jar.

While we continue to try and figure out exactly what it is the AMA does, check the press release about Derek “Nobby” Clark after the jump.

Welcome Back Baby: Yamaha Racing Announces the Return of Valentino Rossi for Two Seasons

08/10/2012 @ 2:46 am, by David Emmett35 COMMENTS

Welcome Back Baby: Yamaha Racing Announces the Return of Valentino Rossi for Two Seasons Valentino Ross goodbye baby 3 635x422

After official confirmation from Ducati that Valentino Rossi would be leaving at the end of the season, now comes the official press release from Yamaha, announcing he has been signed to a two-year deal to race for them in 2013 and 2014.

The Italian will line up alongside Jorge Lorenzo for the next two years, and the press release makes their goal very obvious: winning the triple crown of rider, manufacturer and team championships. The press release from Yamaha can be found after the jump.