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.

Trackside Tuesday: An Embarrassment of Riches

04/23/2013 @ 1:53 pm, by Scott Jones23 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: An Embarrassment of Riches cal crutchlow cota blur motogp scott jones 635x423

Marc Marquez stole several things this past weekend at the Circuit of the Americas. Freddie Spencer lost two records (youngest rider to set pole and youngest rider to win a premie-class GP race), and Cal Crutchlow lost a great deal of attention he deserved for a fantastic performance, in some ways his best since coming to MotoGP.

So many members of the media were focussed on Marquez’s record setting that few of us gave due attention to how remarkable a job Crutchlow was doing on his first visit to this new facility. Marquez, Pedrosa, and Lorenzo were fastest in qualifying, helped by the experience at COTA that was gained during the pre-season test in March — also along for that test were Valentino Rossi and Stefan Bradl.

But, Crutchlow did not make that trip, and thus put in his first laps at Circuit of the Americas on Friday. Those first laps were after a garage fire had dealt Tech 3 the wild cards of drenched equipment that, though thoroughly dried by the hard-working crew, remained of questionable reliability given the soaking they had received Wednesday night.

While Marquez rightly had the majority of our attention, consider the performance of a satellite rider on his first weekend at a new track.

MotoGP: Ducati Corse’s New “Junior Team” Strategy

08/02/2012 @ 11:11 am, by David Emmett11 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Ducati Corses New Junior Team Strategy Mugello Italian GP MotoGP Thursday Jules Cisek 08 635x423

Ducati is on the verge of a large-scale overhaul of a major part of its MotoGP strategy. In 2013, its approach to satellite teams is set to change radically, with its satellite structure set to receive factory-spec Desmosedicis that will have a much closer relationship with the Borgo Panigale factory, says Ducati boss Alessandro Cicognani. “The main goal is to have a more competitive bike,” Cicognani said, speaking to us after the race at Mugello. “In this scenario, we are thinking that the satellite team could be a help to achieve more effective results more quickly for the factory team.”

The idea is to take a leaf out of Yamaha’s book, Cicognani explained. “The strategy we are thinking about is like a Tech 3 but with factory-spec bikes, something like that,” he said, while emphasizing that the plans had yet to be finalized. “We are thinking about it. We have some ideas.”

Karel Abraham Releases Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Details: 999cc, 250hp, & 360 km/h Top Speed

01/20/2012 @ 6:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler21 COMMENTS

Karel Abraham Releases Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Details: 999cc, 250hp, & 360 km/h Top Speed Karel Abraham Ducati Desmosedici GP12 Valencia test 11 635x423

After testing for three days at Jerez with Carlos Checa and Franco Battaini, Ducati Corse may not be saying much about the new Ducati Desmosedici GP12, but that hasn’t stop Karel Abraham from releasing some details about the new Italian steed today. The “official” technical specifications of MotoGP race bikes are always a bit vague, and Ducati Corse has unsurprisingly stuck to that trend with the GP12. Stating horsepower in the 250hp range, 15hp more than what was quoted for the GP11, Ducati also lists a top speed of over 360 km/h, up from the GP11’s 340+ km/h quoted figure.

Perhaps more interesting than the power and top speed figures is the quoted displacement for Abraham’s GP12. With fuel restrictions not increasing with the maximum displacement allotment for 2012, and the maximum bore size set at 81mm for the new MotoGP era, Ducati in particular was rumored to be exploring a displacement figure in the 900cc range, but interestingly enough appears to be taking the GP12 up to the maximum cylinder volume. There is also of course some speculation that Ducati Corse could use a narrower V° angle, a change from the standard 90° V4 we’ve seen from the Italian brand.

Toseland’s Fall from Grace – Signs with Satellite BMW Team

10/24/2010 @ 2:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

Toselands Fall from Grace   Signs with Satellite BMW Team James Toseland push bike 635x422

It wasn’t that long ago (2007 actually) that James Toseland was on top of the world, handily winning the 2007 World Superbike Championship on his Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR. However the British rider has had nothing but a string of bad luck since his WSBK domination, entering MotoGP in 2008 with the Tech3 Yamaha team, and then back into WSBK with the factory-backed Sterilgarda Yamaha squad in 2010. Toseland failed to impress his rookie season in MotoGP, and his second-season toss-up with Colin Edwards over their crew chief swap didn’t seem to help matters much either.

Bumped out of the squad by American Ben Spies, JT was in World Superbike this last season, where many expected to see the part-time pianist play another tarantella of victories in the series. The Yamaha R1 had been the bike to have in the 2009 season, and Toseland was after all a former WSBK Champion; but the results didn’t materialize, and JT finished the season 9th, nearly 100 points behind his rookie Teammate Cal Crutchlow, who will be in Tech3 Yamaha for the 2011 season. The last man left standing in the silly season round of musical chairs, Toseland will see his stature in WSBK further slide into oblivion as he now joins the Italian satellite BMW squad for 2011.

Colin Edwards Signs One-Year Contract with Tech3

09/19/2010 @ 1:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Colin Edwards Signs One Year Contract with Tech3 Colin Edwards contract renewal Aragon GP 560x371

Officially announced after today’s Aragon GP, Colin Edwards has signed-on with Monster Yamaha Tech3 for another year of racing with the satellite team. In what was Edwards’ 100th appearance on a Yamaha, the Texan had a disappointing finish, but has seen his best results while on the French team. Edwards will join his new teammate for next year, Cal Crutchlow, and help the British rider come up to speed on the 800cc Yamaha MotoGP bike, and the pair is highly favored to be the top satellite riders next season.

“I am delighted to have signed a new one-year contract with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team,” said the Texan Tornado. “I want to say a big thanks to Yamaha and to Tech3 for their unwavering support. I am honoured to continue my long and successful relationship with Yamaha, Herve Poncharal and all at Tech3. I love the team and feel like part of a big family and I’m thrilled that our adventure together is continuing next year.”

Barbera Renews Contract with Aspar MotoGP Team

09/08/2010 @ 12:49 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Barbera Renews Contract with Aspar MotoGP Team motogp 10 laguna fri 0256 560x371

The Pagina Amarillas Aspar Ducati team has announced that they have retained the services of rider Hector Barbera for the 2011 season. Barbera has shown good results for the true satellite Ducati team in his rookie season, currently sitting 12th in the MotoGP Championship standings, and the top non-factory Ducati rider in the paddock.

Loris Capirossi to Pramac Ducati

08/11/2010 @ 2:17 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Loris Capirossi to Pramac Ducati Loris Capirossi Laguna Seca 635x403

Despite the fact that Suzuki will be sticking around in MotoGP for the 2011 season, veteran rider Loris Capirossi is seeing next season as his escape from the struggling factory team. In a move that seems all but signed, Capirex will likely take the #1 seat at Pramac Ducati next season, where Italian hopes to be more competitive with the pseduo-satellite Ducati team.

Ducati Will Run Six Bikes in MotoGP Next Year

07/29/2010 @ 5:58 am, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

Ducati Will Run Six Bikes in MotoGP Next Year Karel Abraham Barcelona Cardion AB1 635x423

Karel Abraham has just confirmed that he will be riding a Ducati Desmosedici GP11 in next year’s MotoGP Championship series. Who is Abraham you may be asking? Well he’s the son of Karel Abraham of course. Yeah…we didn’t think that would explain things very well either. Let’s put it this way, Abraham Sr. is the owner of the GP track at Brno, and Abraham Jr. is his son that has never won a race, let alone a podium, at any GP level race.

Swelling Ducati’s numbers on the MotoGP grid, Karel Abraham (Jr.) will be the sixth Ducati on the grid, which includes the two factory Ducatis of Marlboro Ducati, the two semi-factory Ducatis of Pramac Ducati, and the satellite Ducati of Team Aspar. That’s a lot of Desmos.

First Aprilia Satellite Team in WSBK Racing as Smrz Switches From Ducati to Aprilia RSV4

07/08/2010 @ 6:05 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

First Aprilia Satellite Team in WSBK Racing as Smrz Switches From Ducati to Aprilia RSV4 Jakub Smrz Aprilia RSV4 WSBK satellite team 2 560x373 635x386

This week marks a first in recent World Superbike history: an Aprilia satellite team in WSBK. The news comes as Jakub Smrz and PATA B&G Racing have jumped ship from the Ducati 1198 platform to the race dominating Aprilia RSV4. The change isn’t a huge surprise for those close the B&G, as the team has been unhappy with Ducati since May because of issues of reliability and other technical issues with the Ducati.

Silly Season: Capirex to Pramac Ducati?

05/25/2010 @ 6:00 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Silly Season: Capirex to Pramac Ducati? Loris Capirossi Capirex Pramac Ducati rumor 635x422

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.