No it’s not Victory Day, nor Valentine’s Day, and not even the next showing of the Vagina Monologues, the countdown to V-Day in the motorcycle world is the day that Valentino Rossi announces his move to Ducati in MotoGP racing. Slated to occur at Brno during the Czech GP because of a gentlemen’s agreement, Valentino Rossi’s announcement will be the crack in the doors that opens the flood gates of other announcements. Like a line of domino’s strewn about the MotoGP paddock, Rossi’s plans for 2011 are the tipping stone that sets the rest of the paddock in motion…and we’re sure he’d have it no other way.
The MotoGP silly season continues, this time with a rumor that’s not about one of the four alien riders. MotoGP veteran Loris Capirossi has long been the rider behind the development of the Suzuki GSV-R in MotoGP, but that hasn’t stopped the lens of paddock gossips from pointing Capirex towards the direction of a satellite Ducati team. More specifically, Capirossi has been linked to talking to the Pramac Ducati team about a seat on a satellite Ducati for 2011.
UPDATE: GPOne.com (probably the most reliable source in the Italian Media) has gotten word from Livio Suppo that “no one has signed anything yet”, which probably confirms that Stoner is talking to HRC, but obviously hasn’t made his mind up about anything.
Silly season is officially underway starting today as the Italian press is full of accounts (all penning their source as being from Sportmediaset) that Casey Stoner has signed with the Repsol Honda MotoGP team, with a sub-headline that Valentino Rossi has been offered a two-year contract with Ducati. Sportmediaset cites the deciding reason for Stoner jumping ship as being the Australian rider’s disappointment in how Ducati backed him during his mysterious illness last year.
Despite headlining Stoner’s move, the bulk of their article concerns Rossi’s switch to Ducati, which may be a tip-off on the validity of the news, as the Italian press loves to pair the two marquee names together. We wade through the silly season possibilities further after the jump.
UPDATE: It looks like Zero is using Team Agni’s GSX-R based electric motorcycle, which won the inaugural TTXGP last year at the Isle of Man. Picture in the comments posted by our very own John Adamo (skadamo).
They were all at Thunderhill Park Raceway yesterday testing for Team ZeroAgni, that’s what. With a Suzuki GSX-R (600 we’re assuming, but impossible to tell) and a modified Zero S that was sporting the K² logo, the team from Santa Cruz was out getting their lean on with some special help from Shawn Higbee, of AMA privateer fame. The assumption from these findings is that Zero Motorcycles was out pacing the K² Zero S, against the sportbike to see how the two compare. We can only assume that the added presence of Buell-tour-de-force Higbee means the AMA rider has been tapped to pilot ZeroAgni’s race bike at Infineon on May 16th.
Italian newspaper Il Sol 24 Ore is reporting more rumors about MV Agusta divesture and the company’s possible suitors. As we’ve reported already, there’s been some speculation that Paolo Berlusconi might be interested in the Italian brand, but he’s also been linked to another Italian company looking for a home. Now coming out of the woodwork are some new names, with links to Ducati & MV Agusta.
UPDATE 2: Ducati has just informed us that the Monster 796 is being considered an early 2011 model year motorcycle, we’ve update our post to reflect this.
UPDATE: Pricing for the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 will be $9,995 in the USA.
The rumor floodgates were wide-open this weekend about a possible late model entry by Ducati that would see the Italian company add a Monster 796 to its 2010 model lineup. We can now confirm that the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 has been added to the Monster product line, and will fit in-between the 696cc and 1100cc versions of the Monster.
The impetus for this late addition is reportedly because of poor sales in the 1100cc range of Monsters, which has prompted Ducati to further segment the line-up with a middle offering. The Monster is actually Ducati’s best selling line of motorcycle, and the brand is keen to maximize its return on the newly updated design, and is seemingly pinning its hopes on this late entry. Video, photos, and more of the 2011 Ducati Monster 796 below.
It’s been our long standing view that Volkswagen entering into the motorcycle realm after it’s 20% stake in Suzuki is purely a work of fiction fabricated by bored journalists. The majority opinion is that Volkswagen acquired an interest in Suzuki (who also makes cars) to gain a better foothold in developing countries where smaller vehicles with smaller displacements are king.
This sentiment hasn’t stopped others from believing that there could be more collaboration between the two marks in making a two-wheeled vehicle, and the latest rumor pegs Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Director of Management of Volkswagen AG, as saying explicitly saying just that…of course, no one actually has him on the record with that statement.
Known only to us as “The Sparrow“, we just got some tips from our insider in the AMA. The Sparrow goes on to tell us that rumors of Miguel Duhamel making a return to AMA racing at Fontana are untrue, and the actual rider listed as “TBA” is instead Tyler Odom. The Sparrow also goes on to say that John Hopkins has been incredibly unhappy with the performance of his GSX-R1000, faulting the motor as having less power than the rest of the field. While indications seem to suggest that’s not the case, Yoshimura has put together a new lump for Hopper that looks to have plenty of juice, but will it pass scrutineering after the races? Continue reading for the full report from The Sparrow.
This article takes a doubly interesting turn of events. You may remember that a week ago we brought to you the unveiling of the Bimota HB4 Moto2 race bike. The HB4, the first time a Honda motor has been in a Bimota in 25 years, was to be campaigned by FB Corse in the first running of the 250GP replacement series, Moto2, but has mysteriously been left out of the Moto2 Provisional race list.
Equally unnerving was the postponement of the FB Corse MotoGP & Moto2 press launch, which was allegedly due to FB Corse boss, Andrea Ferrari, undergoing hand surgery. The timing of that postponement drew some skeptical attention since it was right in the middle of the Hoppergate saga, which saw American rider John Hopkins teetering back and forth between riding the FB Corse MotoGP machine or taking a seat in the AMA Pro Superbike series.
Now with Hopkins making his intent to ride in the AMA clear, the FB Corse MotoGP bike yet to be unveiled, and the Bimota HB4 absentee from the Provisional Moto2 racing list, there are rumors circulating in the American and Italian racing camps that this entire thing is a charade and done for publicity.
More rumors abound about Ducati’s replacement bike for the Multistrada. We can stop calling is the”R1200GS killer”, as it seems the first iteration will not include a 19″ front wheel. That’s not to say higher-ups in the Ducati management aren’t considering the possibility of a line extension or optional dirt-ready package.
Additionally, the Stradaperta 1200 (no definite news if that is to be the production name) will showcase a 1200cc air-cooled motor that is the latest revision on Ducati’s air-cooled and currently Monster based power plant. Output is said to exceed the 100HP mark, while maintaining strong low and midrange torque.
We’re still sometime away from any sort of official launch or reliable leaked specs and pictures, so take what is here as perhaps “educated” day dreaming.