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: One Man Show for Race 1 at Phillip Island

02/26/2011 @ 6:27 pm, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

WSBK: One Man Show for Race 1 at Phillip Island Carlos Checa WSBK Race 1 Phillip Island 635x422

Carlos Checa started the season-opening round of World Superbike racing at Phillip Island on pole, having dominated testing and the weekend. Reigning champion Max Biaggi started alongside him, finally bearing his #1 championship plate, having posted a qualifying time just .013s slower than Checa’s. Completing the front row were Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, both quick in the dry times from Saturday’s qualifying.

Conditions on Sunday led to some shake-ups in the order for the morning warm-up, as overnight rain dampened the track. Australian Troy Corser led those times, followed by Guintoli, Jakub Smrz, Haslam, and the injured Jonathan Rea. Chris Vermeulen was unable to race at Phillip Island after failing to pass the physical due to a slow recovery from knee surgery. To find out who dominated Phillip Island Race 1, continue reading after the jump.

WSBK: Geriatrics Battle for Race 1 at Misano

06/27/2010 @ 7:49 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

WSBK: Geriatrics Battle for Race 1 at Misano Max Biaggi WSBK Misano Race 1 560x356

Max Biaggi turned a year older yesterday, making the Italian rider 39 years-old, but he isn’t the only rider on the World Superbike grid that’s whose a bit weathered with age. Battling for Race 1 at Misano this weekend, the old duffs came out of the woodwork, and showed that you can teach an old dog new tricks after all. Get out your walked, and check out all the race spoilers after the jump.

WSBK: Close Racing in Race 1 at Monza

05/10/2010 @ 5:49 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Close Racing in Race 1 at Monza Max Biaggi James Toseland WSBK Monza Race 1 560x373

World Superbike racing was back again this weekend with a stop in Monza, Italy. The Italian circuit played host to a very fast group of riders, which helped shed the course’s former lap record and top speed with little effort. With Max Biaggi and his Aprilia RSV4 at the top of the heap, all eyes were on them for a hometown victory. Check after the jump to see how Biaggi et al fared, and for the full race results.

WSBK: Close Group Vies for Win in Race 1 at Assen

04/26/2010 @ 11:07 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

WSBK: Close Group Vies for Win in Race 1 at Assen  Johnny Rea WSBK Race 1 560x300

The results of Race 1 at Assen may not be a huge surprise for race fans, but the racing that took place to get those results surely was. The first race of World Superbike’s stop in mayonnaise country saw some strong showings from hometown favorites, and some disappointments from WSBK greats. This trend in the 2010 season seems to be the norm this year, which means great racing for WSBK fans. With five racers vying for the win and only a handful of laps to go, you’ll be disappointed if you didn’t catch this race and its conclusion.

WSBK: Landslide During Race 1 at Valencia

04/12/2010 @ 6:16 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Landslide During Race 1 at Valencia haga grid 560x373

World Superbike headed to Valencia, Spain this weekend for the third round of the WSBK season. With a strong Superpole by Cal Crutchlow, all eyes were on the Sterilgarda Yamaha to see if a surprise victory would occur. With the Championship heating up as riders are vetted into place, Valenica would prove to be a battlefield this weekend with more than one rider firing a warning shot across the proverbial bows of their competitors, signaling their intention to compete.

WBSK: Photo Finish for Race 1 at Phillip Island

02/28/2010 @ 3:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

WBSK: Photo Finish for Race 1 at Phillip Island WSBK Race 1 Phillip Island finish blur 560x390

The wait is over, World Superbike racing action is back as Race 1 was underway at Phillip Island today. Perhaps a glimpse into the racing year, the action from down under did not disappoint race fans, and sets up WSBK to have a excitingly close season. Click past the jump for all the racing news of Race 1 at Phillip Island, including rider quotes, video highlights, and race standings.

Video: Relive The Last WSBK Races at Portimao

10/30/2009 @ 9:04 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Video: Relive The Last WSBK Races at Portimao Ben Spies WBSK Champion 560x372

Living in the Land of the Free has its advantages, but one of them is not the gift of conveniently televised motorcycle races on SPEED TV. Did you miss Sunday’s race, and Tuesday’s rebroadcast? Well, we’ve got you covered…actually the organizers of WorldSBK.com have you covered. Click here for a list of WSBK races you can stream to your desktop, including Race 1 & Race 2 of WSBK’s stop at Portimao, Portugal. Thanks for the tip Cat.

WSBK: Crash in Race 1 Could Cost the Championship

10/26/2009 @ 1:20 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

WSBK: Crash in Race 1 Could Cost the Championship Ben Spies Race 1 WSBK Portimao Portugal 560x303

It’s the day that all World Superbike fans have been looking forward to, the day that the battle for the World Superbike Championship would finally come to an end. Some say it is Noriyuki Haga, who has come so close to Superbike supremacy in the past, only to miss his day by a few simple points. Others say it is Ben Spies.

The Texan has been dominating his rookie season abroad, and now with his MotoGP plans for 2010 solidified, it would be unfinished business if he left World Superbike without a Championship wreath. We think both riders have a solid argument for why they should win the crown, but talking does little for victory on the race track.

With two races at Portimao to find our champion, it would seem that all we’d need is Race 1 to find our Champion, as a costly crash early into the race by one of these riders has likely dashed their hopes for the day. More 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.

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.