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: 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.

Official: Noriyuki Haga to Race in British Superbike

02/13/2012 @ 2:18 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Official: Noriyuki Haga to Race in British Superbike noriyuki haga wbsk pata aprilia miller 635x476

The rumors about Noriyuki Haga’s future have been swelling for the past few weeks, as the Japanese rider was tipped to land in the British Superbike Championship for the 2012 season. Officially confirmed today by Yamaha Racing, Nitro Nori will once again take to a Yamaha YZF-R1, as he competes with Swan Yamaha in BSB, and permanently replaces the injured Ian Hutchinson. While BSB fans were surely dismayed by the news that Hutchy would be out for at least part of the BSB season, the Isle of Man TT star’s absence will at least be made up for by the addition of Haga to the BSB rostrum.

A boon for the British Superbike series, Haga’s status as a former-WSBK contender should add another name to the list of riders that British fans will have to follow in 2012. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride, Haga finished runner-up in the 2000, 2007, & 2009 WSBK seasons, and finished third in the 2004, 2005, 2006, & 2008 seasons. Nitro Nori will be hoping to change that luck in the UK though, and with the support of the factory-backed Swan Yamaha squad, we expect to see the Japanese rider on the top step on more than a few occasions.

Confirmed: Josh Hayes to Replace Edwards at Valencian GP

10/28/2011 @ 1:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Confirmed: Josh Hayes to Replace Edwards at Valencian GP monster graves yamaha josh hayes 01 635x723

With the announcement that Colin Edwards would be unable to attend and race the Valencian GP because of injuries he sustained during the tragic incident that killed Marco Simoncelli, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 said earlier today that it was looking into a replacement rider for the last MotoGP round. With speculation swirling after Tech 3’s announcement, Asphalt & Rubber has now been able to confirm that AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes will be the Texas Tornardo’s replacement at Valencia.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga to Replace Jorge Lorenzo at Sepang

10/19/2011 @ 4:58 am, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

Katsuyuki Nakasuga to Replace Jorge Lorenzo at Sepang Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Racing 635x420

With its two main racing sponsors being Malaysian oil Company Petronas and Yamaha Motor Kenkana Indonesia, Sepang is an important market for Yamaha Racing, and Jorge Lorenzo is a popular rider with Malaysian fans. This puts Yamaha in a quandary this weekend at the Malaysian GP, as the Spanish rider will be unable to compete in the penultimate GP round as he is still recovering from the finger injury he sustained at Phillip Island.

Needing a rider to fill-in for Lorenzo, Yamaha Racing has tapped factory test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga to ride the factory Yamaha YZR-M1 at Sepang. The 30-year-old Nakasuga comes with a resume that includes not only testing the M1 with its Bridgestone tires (familiarity with the Japanese tire being paramount, just ask Toni Elias), but also competing in the 2011 All Japan Road Racing Championship, where he currently sits third in the JSB1000 class.

WSBK: Alex Lowes in at Castrol Honda for Injured Rea

06/22/2011 @ 6:00 pm, by Victoria Reid2 COMMENTS

WSBK: Alex Lowes in at Castrol Honda for Injured Rea Rea Misano CH1 635x419

Alex Lowes will replace Jonathan Rea for the World Superbike round at Brno next month while the rider recovers from surgery. Rea had a huge crash during the warm-up ten days ago at the Misano round, resulting in a broken collarbone, injured foot, and radial fracture and ligament damage to his right wrist. He underwent surgery Monday and was scheduled to miss this past weekend’s racing at Aragon and return for Brno.

Instead, considerable ligament damage to the wrist was found, necessitating “external pins in it and screws,” according to a tweet by the rider Thursday. Rea explained further, “I was pretty upset when I got the news after the surgery yesterday because it means a longer rehab than we’d thought. It’s difficult, of course, and I’m devastated, but I’ve got a great team around me so I know I’ll get all the support I need to come back strong.” That team includes surgeon Mike Hayton, who has had a busy couple of weeks operating on Rea last Monday and Troy Corser this week.

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 1090R Outed in Canada – Replaces the MV Agusta Brutale 920?

04/07/2011 @ 11:13 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

2011 MV Agusta Brutale 1090R Outed in Canada   Replaces the MV Agusta Brutale 920? 2011 MV Agusta Brutale 1090R wtf

UPDATE: According to CMGonline, the MV Agusta Brutale 1090R will replace the Brutale 920 only in the Canadian market.

The Canadian importer of MV Agusta motorcycles has once again outed a new model from the Italian company. First it was the entry-level (if you can call it that) 2011 MV Agusta Brutale 920 that broke cover because of our neighbors to the north, and now the Canadians have let slip news of the 2011 MV Agusta Brutale 1090R, another lower-spec version of the Brutale 1090RR (let us pause for a moment while we collectively go “hmmm…”)

Available in Summer 2011, the MV Agusta Brutale 1090R is sporting a $16,695 price tag in Canada, which will likely translate into a sub-$15,000 MSRP here in the United States. At the core of the Brutale 1090R is a 1078cc that’s good for 144 hp, which is based off the Brutale 990R’s motor, but makes similar spec’s as the lump found in the Brutale 1099RR.

If you’re asking yourself why does MV Agusta need another lower-spec Brutale? “It doesn’t” would be the answer, but the Italian company has seemingly quietly nixed the Brutale 920, presumably in favor of the 1090R instead. With the Italian site still listing the entry-level Brutale as a 921cc model, Canada has either outed a new model, or the news that the Brutale 920 will be replaced by the Brutale 1090R (interestingly enough, the Canadian site has done away with almost all reference to the 921cc machine). Either way, details on this bike are after the jump.

Rizla Suzuki to Sit Out Qatar GP

03/19/2011 @ 9:48 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Rizla Suzuki to Sit Out Qatar GP Rizla Suzuki Alvaro Bautista foot drag 635x425

No sooner did news of Álvaro Bautista’s broken femur hit the MotoGP paddock did speculation begin as to whom would/could replace the unfortunately injured Spanish rider. The list of racers capable of piloting a MotoGP machine is short and distinguished, and the majority of speculation turned to whether John Hopkins would have another go at the Suzuki GSV-R in Qatar. The other option banded-about, although with much less fervor, were MotoGP-turned-Moto2 riders Ant West, Alex de Angelis, & Aleix Espargaró.