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.

Mission Motorcycles Becomes Mission Electric, Boats & Cars to Come, Mission R/RS Motos Delayed Until Q2/Q3 2015

Interesting things are afoot in the electric realm. Mission Motorcycles is about to expand beyond the two-wheels, as the company becomes officially called Mission Electric. The change comes about as Mission plans to expand into the automotive and marine segments, though the San Francisco company isn’t saying yet who it is partnering with in those spaces. Mission says it will continue to offer consumer-side products, like its current crop of electric motorcycles, the Mission R and Mission RS. However, its business model will expand to offer business-side electric drivetrain components, which was previously the realm of Mission Motors.

Is US Superbike Racing on the Verge of a Revival?

Motorcycle road racing in the US looks set for a revival after its years in the wilderness. Today, the AMA announced that the rights to road racing in the US have been reacquired from the Daytona Motorsports Group, and handed to a consortium led by Wayne Rainey and Chuck Aksland. The KRAVE Group will run a new series of races in North America from 2015, under the joint auspices of the AMA and the FIM. It has been a long and difficult few years for motorcycle road racing in the US. Since the DMG bought the rights to the AMA Superbike series, at the start of the 2008 season, the series has been in a steady decline.

MotoGP: Crashes Shake-Up Qualifying at Jerez

04/02/2011 @ 5:44 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

MotoGP: Crashes Shake Up Qualifying at Jerez Ben Spies Yamaha Racing MotoGP Jerez Qualifying 635x423

Qualifying for the Spanish GP got underway today under the sunny, but windy skies of Jerez, Spain. Unsurprising to just about anyone, the Repsol Hondas of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were on the top of the time sheets, with local Jorge Lorenzo completing the front row and only 0.16 seconds off the qualifying pace. While the rank and order surprises few, all eyes will be on the latter stages of tomorrow’s race to see how Dani Pedrosa can manage with his ailing shoulder, which the Spaniard will have operated on immediately after the GP

The qualifying session saw a total of six riders hitting the tarmac and gravel traps, with many blaming the wind as a contributing factor. The list of riders crashing includes Valentino Rossi, Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, Randy de Puniet, Karel Abraham, and Hiroshi Aoyama. Thankfully no one was injured, but in the case of Rossi, it meant trashing his preferred bike for the session, causing him to qualify on his other machine, and landing 12th on the starting grid.

He’ll be joined on the fourth row by teammate Nicky Hayden, who has been having a miserable season thus far on the Desmosedici GP11, and once again Randy de Puniet proved himself to be the fastest Ducati, qualifying seventh. Honorable mentions go out to John Hopkins, who continued his progress filling in for the injured Alvaro Bautista this weekend with a fourteenth grid position for tomorrow’s race. With a good start we could see a mid-pack finish for Hopper, who has shown marked improvement with each session on the Suzuki GSV-R.

With the rain very likely to make an appearance for tomorrow’s race, all bets are off for how the Spanish GP will shape-up.

Chapter 1: Your Cheat Sheet to the Qatar GP

03/20/2011 @ 6:34 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Chapter 1: Your Cheat Sheet to the Qatar GP Dani Pedrosa close up1 635x425

Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock this week, the 2011 MotoGP Championship is about to kick off today. Asphalt & Rubber has made the trek out to the Middle East, coming to you straight from the Losail International Circuit located just outside of Doha, Qatar. The weather has been favorable here in Qatar, with the heat down during the day, the skies clear but at times hazy, and the humidity staying down during the evening sessions. Hosting a two-day testing session before the Qatar GP, the riders have been here in Doha for almost 10 days now.

While you enjoy the return of MotoGP racing action to your online feeds and television screens, we’ve put together a cheat sheet to the Qatar GP to fill you in with the off-season happenings, as well as what’s been going on in the paddock while we’ve been here at Losail. Hold on race fans, prototype motorcycle racing is coming at you very, very, very soon.

Randy de Puniet Signs on with Pramac Ducati for 2011

11/07/2010 @ 11:48 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Randy de Puniet Signs on with Pramac Ducati for 2011 Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 635x694

A&R Patron Saint, Randy de Puniet confirmed this weekend at Valencia that he has signed with the Pramac Ducati team for the 2011 season. Making his announcement at the conclusion of Saturday’s qualifying session, de Puniet is the second-to-last unconfirmed rider for next season, as now everyone waits to hear Gresini Honda’s confirmation of Hiroshi Aoyama to its quasi-satellite team.

The Gresini squad is likely waiting for the Repsol Honda team to confirm how it will handle having three marquis riders under one tent, as HRC has signed Dani Pedorsa, Casey Stoner, and Andrea Dovizioso. At one point there was talk of having Dovi take a seat in Gresini, with the promise of factory support from HRC.

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.

Silly Season: The Hondas of MotoGP

10/20/2010 @ 4:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Silly Season: The Hondas of MotoGP LCR Honda Randy de Puniet Lauren Vickers 635x421

It’s a bit of irony that Casey Stoner was the first MotoGP alien to to make his move in the 2010 silly season, yet is the last MotoGP alien whose fate we know completely. Signing with Honda it was assumed that Stoner would be a part of a three-man team within Repsol Honda, with HRC saying as much during its press announcement with the Australian rider. When the budget necessary to field a three-man team failed to materialize from Repsol, HRC began looking for other options, with the most prominent being a single-man team (likely with Casey Stoner), possibly sponsored by Red Bull. Unable to get the energy drink company to foot the bill, HRC then turned to satellite squad Gresini, where Marco Simoncelli, another HRC contracted rider, currently resides.

Andrea Dovizioso seemingly drew the short-straw in that arrangement, with HRC pressuring the Italian to move into Gresini with the promise of factory support being made for both riders. Dovizioso is reported as having a performance clause in his contract that guarantees him a seat in a factory team should he meet certain criteria. With Dovi honoring his end of the agreement, he looked to HRC to honor its side of the contract, and a Honda Gresini ride is not what the Italian had in mind. Making matters worse is HRC’s history of not honoring support agreements to riders once they leave the folds of the factory team. As such Dovizioso held his ground, and rightfully so.

With the 2011 season likely to see four factory-backed Honda riders, something had to give, and that something seems to be Repsol Honda. According to MotoWorld, Repsol Honda agreed at the Australian GP to up its MotoGP funding from €10 million to €15 million, and support a three-man Repsol Honda factory team. With Stoner, Pedrosa, and Dovizioso tucked away under one tent for the 2011 season, and Marco Simoncelli staying in Gresini Honda, that leaves a vacancy in the quasi-satellite team that will surely be filled by Hiroshi Aoyama.

The Suzuki Silly Season Roundup: The Rookie, The Veteran, & The Frenchman

09/18/2010 @ 6:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

The Suzuki Silly Season Roundup: The Rookie, The Veteran, & The Frenchman Rizla Suzuki single bike team 635x422

Noticeably absent from the silly season slogging has been the factory Suzuki MotoGP team. Although we know that Suzuki intends to stay in MotoGP for at least one more season, despite a continued tradition of mediocrity, very little other information has come forward. Perhaps at the top of the rumor heap is the speculation that Rizla Suzuki will potentially field only one bike in the 2011 MotoGP season, electing not to replace Loris Capirossi who has been linked to the Pramac Ducati team.

Randy de Puniet Back at It after 22 Days

08/09/2010 @ 1:18 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Only 22 days after his crash at Sachsenring, Randy de Puniet is back on two wheels with his fractured tibia and fibula. Taking some laps at Circuit d’Ales on a Honda CBR1000RR, de Puniet’s track time is presumably to see if the Frenchman will be ready for the Czech GP this weekend.

There’s Never a Bunny Around When You Need One

07/20/2010 @ 9:06 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Theres Never a Bunny Around When You Need One Randy De Puniet Clinica Mobile Sachsenring 3 560x314

God bless Randy de Puniet. For whatever reason, the French LCR Honda rider has wormed his way into our hearts here at Asphalt & Rubber. At first it was because de Puniet had a penchant for crashing, perpetually misplacing his shirt, and well…being French. As the leading satellite bike rider in the 2010 season though, Randy de Puniet has found a new consistency with the LCR Honda, and has even given the factory Repsol Honda boys a run for their money on more than one occasion. We have to admit, we’ve been impressed with de Randy 2.0 this season.

de Puniet has also stayed mostly out of the gravel traps for 2010, showing a new maturity. He’s still French, pompous, and generally comes across as a playboy, but we sort of like that in our French men. Afterall, if Parisians were courteous to American tourists, the city would feel a lot like Atlanta: hot, dirty, and full of people who talk funny.

So when Randy de Puniet broke his leg during the German GP, we were crushed to hear that our favorite rider in the paddock would be out until Brno, and miss the Laguna Seca round. Our concerns of course then immediately turned to Randy’s well-being as he was being carted off for examination at Clinica Mobile.

Was he ok? Did his broad shoulders fit through the clinic’s meager doorways? Who would hold his brave hand while Dr. Costa poked and proded him with his medical “science”? We now know those answers. Video after the jump.

Randy de Puniet Out for Seca – Roger Lee Hayden In

07/19/2010 @ 6:03 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Randy de Puniet Out for Seca   Roger Lee Hayden In Randy de Puniet Sachsenring crash 5 560x373

If you haven’t watched the German GP at Sachsenring yet, stop reading now. After crashing during Sunday’s race and breaking his tibia and fibia, Randy de Puniet will be out for the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca next weekend. The horrific crash leaves de Puniet in a similar situation as to what Valentino Rossi found himself in 6 weeks ago, which gives us a glimpse as to when we can likely see the shirtless Frenchman back in MotoGP racing. Who is to replace de Puniet at Seca? Why none other than Roger Lee Hayden.

Red Flag Interrupts Qualifying at Sachsenring

07/17/2010 @ 8:06 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Red Flag Interrupts Qualifying at Sachsenring Jorge Lorenzo qualifying Sachsenring 560x371

MotoGP qualifying was underway today in Germany, as riders took to Sachsenring with good weather abounding. With the return of Valentino Rossi to the series, the MotoGP paddock is buzzing with excitement, but the good vibrations would be cut short as the qualifying session was red flagged part-way through.

Seemingly grenading one of his six precious motors, Jorge Lorenzo dumped oil onto the German track, but before officials could the halt the session, Ben Spies and Randy de Puniet experienced a better understanding to what a mu coefficient is, and ended up in the gravel trap. While Spies was un-hurt, de Puniet was seen grabbing his ankle after the crash. The French rider did not participate in the restarted qualifying session, and spent his time in Clinica Mobile.