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.

World Superbike Updates Its 2012 Provisional Calendar

10/13/2011 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

World Superbike Updates Its 2012 Provisional Calendar Carlos Checa Althea Ducati 635x403

World Superbike has released presumably its final revision to the Provisional World Superbike Championship Calendar (still with us here?). Announcing that Portimão will now be the penultimate round on the calendar, the Portuguese Circuit has been moved up to earlier in the year, and now makes Magny-Cours the production series’s final stop. Other changes include confirming Imola as the series’s second stop, which comes as no surprise to us.

What is surprising though is that this latest updated schedule by Infront and the FIM shows that the round originally scheduled for March 4th, rumored to be at Sepang, has been sacked. Originially intended to help World Superbike breakout from its Euro-centric schedule, the loss of a possible round in Malaysia certainly is a blow to the series in that regard, though there is some consolation in the fact that a round will be held in Russia, at the Moscow International Raceway. Check out the calendar after the jump.

Official: 2011 Provisional MotoGP Calendar

09/30/2010 @ 6:55 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Official: 2011 Provisional MotoGP Calendar MotoGP official provisional calendar 663x441

MotoGP’s official but tentative 2011 Provisional Calendar has finally been released, and it is very different from the one that was leaked two weeks ago. With races appearing in different orders, and scheduled on different weeks, the new calendar seems to be a fairly substantial departure from the typical MotoGP program. Despite these changes, the calendar confirms rumors that the Qatar GP would be moved up by three weeks to compete with the World Superbike opening, and that the Aragon GP would remain in place, taking the spot of the beleagured Hungarian GP. Lastly, the schedule also confirms the news that the Spanish GP at Jerez would move to the front of the schedule, leaving the penultimate MotoGP stop for Sepang. Check the full calendar after the jump.

Provisional 2011 MotoGP Calendar Leaked

09/13/2010 @ 11:35 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Provisional 2011 MotoGP Calendar Leaked Valentino Rossi tuck Laguna Seca 560x382

While the official Provisional 2011 MotoGP Calendar isn’t expected to go public until later this week, we’ve gotten an inside look at the relatively unchanged MotoGP schedule for next season. Our right and honorable friends at MotoMatters were on the ball this morning when travel agents for MotoGP trips got the provisional calendar in their hands, with some already publishing it to the web (travel agents typically get the calendar before the paddock does, since their industry depends on knowing the schedule as early as possible).

There aren’t too many surprises in the 2011 calendar, but the most noteworthy change is the Qatar GP being moved up three weeks to March 20th, to better compete with the start of World Superbike Championship series. The Portuguese GP at Estoril also moves toward the front of the calendar, which seems to happen every other year now. Lastly, Motegi is on the docket, barring any unforeseen volcanic eruptions. We have yet to see when the TwitGP is scheduled for in 20011. Check the full provisional 2011 MotoGP Calendar after the jump.

Moto2 List Hits 40 Teams – Still Not Official

01/20/2010 @ 1:29 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Moto2 List Hits 40 Teams   Still Not Official Moriwaki Moto2 MD600 560x373

Moto2 entries are overflowing at this point in time, with 40 teams on the provisional provisional list (not a typo) that was supposed to contain onl7 37 brave entrants. The overbooking doesn’t seem to be an accident though, as while many teams jumped on-board with the pocketbook friendly GP series, the reality of funding a new racing effort in this economy has become apparent.

Moto2 teams are scrambling to make the bottom-line turn from red to black, and for many this means finding riders with personal sponsorships. There are only so many riders who can fit this bill, suggesting that this number of 40 could be dropping radically in the near future as teams realize that their ends won’t meet. Entry list after the jump.

Provisional MotoGP Calendar – 4 GP’s in Spain?

07/29/2009 @ 12:39 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Provisional MotoGP Calendar   4 GPs in Spain? 2010 MotoGP provisional schedule 560x401

The provisional MotoGP schedule is out. New to the line-up (well sort of), is the stop in Hungary at the Balatonring (yet to be built). And also, the British GP will be held at Silverstone instead of Donington Park. Donington will host Formula1 instead for the foreseeable future.That shouldn’t be a surprise to you if you’re a A&R regular, but for you newcomers…umm, gee…well, SURPRISE!

Dorna doesn’t seem convinced that the Balatonring will be completed in time. So they’ve hedged their bets with a “reserve circuit” in Spain, the Motorland Aragon Circuit. Motorland is a brand new facility that is just outside of Alcañiz, about a hundred miles inland from Barcelona. If the reserve circuit is used, it will mean 4 Grand Prix’s in Spain for 2010.

That might be good news for the rabid motorcycle racing fans of Espana, but it’s even better news for Motorland, which has been trying to establish itself as a premiere venue, by courting Formula1 and MotoGP. Full listing of the schedule after the jump.