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 Locksdown Motorland Aragon Through 2016

03/02/2011 @ 4:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

MotoGP Locksdown Motorland Aragon Through 2016 Casey Stoner 2010 Aragon GP Ducati Corse 635x429

The planets must have aligned oddly in the past 24hrs, as there has been an over-abundance of news about motorcycle racing venues in the past day or so. In addition to the reports that Donington Park has gotten the go-ahead to host the WSBK European round at the end of this month, we’ve also gotten word that the Spanish track of Jerez has hit financial troubles, which could jeopardize the track on MotoGP’s calendar.

A contrast to that latter report, Dorna and Motorland Aragon (you know, that other Spanish track) have announced that Aragon will remain a permanent stop on the GP calendar through the year 2016. While MotoGP fans aren’t likely keen on hearing that Spain will account for nearly 25% of the stops on the GP calendar, the 2010 Aragon GP was immensely popular last year, attracting 70,000 spectators to the otherwise remote location.

Ferrari vs. Ducati: The Great Debate Continues

11/29/2010 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Ferrari vs. Ducati: The Great Debate Continues Ducati Ferrari showdown 635x423

Motor Trend has weighed in on the great debate: which is faster, a car or a bike? Wanting to explore the issue with some style, the car mag proved prints isn’t dead, and took a Ferrari 458 and Ducati 1198S Superbike to the track to see which Rosso Corsa was fastest. With a quarter-mile drag and a lap around the Streets of Willow, MT has its definitive answer on which is the fastest Italian, but we imagine the answer to what form of transportation is ultimately faster will remain an open debate for a while longer. The video is after the jump, stop watching at the 8:22 mark if you don’t want to hear a bunch of excuses being made.

Motorland Aragon to Host World Superbike

05/19/2010 @ 6:23 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Motorland Aragon to Host World Superbike Motorland Aragon Spanish MotoGP track 560x390

You may remember Motorland Aragon as the fourth Spanish-based track that was added to the MotoGP schedule after the Hungarian GP was canceled for a second time in two years. Set to play host to MotoGP on September 19th of this year, the Spanish track has also just gotten the nod to host World Superbike with its premiere facilities. However WSBK is taking a different tack from MotoGP, and instead of running two Spanish stops, Motorland Aragon will replace Valencia on the World Superbike calendar for 2011 (and on through 2013).

Imola Gets FIM Approval – Ready to Race

05/14/2010 @ 9:07 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Imola Gets FIM Approval   Ready to Race Imola Race Track Map 560x420

The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, better known to many simply as the Imola race track, has received approval by the FIM this week, and will be allowed to host FIM sanctioned events this year. This is good news for the Italian track, as it’s slated to play host for World Superbike testing June 28th-30th, and is hosting a WSBK race the week of September 26th, which would have caused a huge disruption in the WSBK schedule if the facility hadn’t gotten the organization’s rubber stamp.

Arizona Motorsports Park Wins Crucial Legal Battle to Re-Open Race Track in the Desert

09/20/2009 @ 3:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Arizona Motorsports Park Wins Crucial Legal Battle to Re Open Race Track in the Desert Arizona Motorsport Park 560x308

Arizona Motorsports Park, the $6 million, 155-acre, 16-turn, 2.23-mile racecourse outside of Glendale, Arizona, has won a crucial legal verdict from the Arizona Court of Appeals. The appellate court has ruled that the race track detrimentally relied on a permit provided by the county to build their facility, and is therefore entitled to continue using its property for racing events.

Laguna Seca Added to Google Street View

09/10/2009 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Laguna Seca Added to Google Street View Google Street View Laguna Seca 560x317

In Google’s attempt to map every piece of asphalt on planet Earth, they have begun to take their Street View service to the race tracks of America. First on their list, and our personal favorite, is Laguna Seca. Check it out after the jump, you’ll catch a few ALMS cars in the shots, as they flanked the Google Street View car as it went around the course.

SE Service Harrier on the Race Track

08/28/2009 @ 5:04 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

SE Service Harrier on the Race Track SE Service Harrier track 2

After taking second place the 2009 European Championship Of Custom Bike Building, Sweden’s SE Service immediately brought their radical BMW custom to the race track to see how she goes when not standing still. The bike’s styling may be too far from the norm for some riders, but at the heart of it is a bevy of technological goodness. Track footage and pictures after the jump.

Google Earth Reveals Coolest Driveway Ever

02/21/2009 @ 1:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Google Earth Reveals Coolest Driveway Ever coolest driveway ever 560x390

Located outside of Lakeland, Florida, this one speaks for itself.

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Singapore to Host MotoGP in 2011, or 2012, or Whenever They Build A Track

11/10/2008 @ 2:53 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Singapore to Host MotoGP in 2011, or 2012, or Whenever They Build A Track singapore gp 2008 001 560x417

MotoGP’s CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has just signed an agreement to have a round of the the 2011 MotoGP season be hosted in Singapore. Now, all that needs to happen is for there to be a MotoGP caliber track in Singapore that the 2011 two-wheeled warriors can actually race around.