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.

Pirelli Debuts New Qualifying Tires for SBK Superpole

05/08/2009 @ 5:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Pirelli Debuts New Qualifying Tires for SBK Superpole pirelli wsbk monza qualifying tire 560x459

At Monza this week, Pirelli will be debuting a new qualifying tire solution for the World Superbike Championship. Taking a page from what Bridgestone is doing in MotoGP, the 200mm qualifying tire will include markers that will help indicate what tires are being selected during the Superpole competition. Pirelli tires will sport non-permanent white “long P” markings and yellow lines, which have been imprinted on to the tire’s surface. These markings will offer spectators and presenters a way of identifying what is happening during the Superpole in regards to tire choices.

WSBK: Jake Zemke to Replace John Hopkins at Monza

05/05/2009 @ 2:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

WSBK: Jake Zemke to Replace John Hopkins at Monza jake zemke 560x420

Stiggy Racing Honda has confirmed that Jake Zemke will replace injured rider John Hopkins for the Monza round of the World Superbike Championship. Hopper had a big off at WSBK’s stop in Assen which left the American with a dislocated hip and fractured femur. Hopper hopes to be back on the bike by WSBK’s stop at Miller Motorsport Park, although that goal seems lofty. In the interim, Zemke will have to fill his shoes.

WSBK: Assen Race 2 Results

04/26/2009 @ 5:42 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Assen Race 2 Results haga assen wsbk race2 560x372

It was Ben Spies again who took the holeshot of Race 2. Building off of his performance in Race 1, the American again began building a lead early on in the race. But wait! There’s more, continue reading for the full report from Race 2 of World Superbike at Assen.

 

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WSBK: Assen Race 1 Results

04/26/2009 @ 5:00 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Assen Race 1 Results spies assen wsbk race1 560x373

In Assen, Holland, it was Ben Spies who took the holeshot in Race 1, launching off the line from pole position and into turn 1 of the Dutch course.  Spies was followed by Max Neukirchner and Noriyuki Haga, neither of whom could touch the American’s lead position after turning just one lap around the course. As Haga closed in on Neukirchner it seemed there would be a good battle for second brewing, but the German made a mistake in the GT chicane and tossed his bike. He would finish 13th for the day. However, Race 1 at Assen wasn’t about to disappoint. Continue reading for a woefully inadequate description of one heck of a Superbike race that was WSBK Race 1 at Assen.

 

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Spies Wins Dutch Superpole at Assen – 4th WSBK Superpole Win in a Row

04/25/2009 @ 10:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Spies Wins Dutch Superpole at Assen   4th WSBK Superpole Win in a Row jakub smrz assen wsbk superpole 560x371

In Assen, Ben Spies took his fourth Superpole win in a row by besting the existing pole record by 7/10ths of a second, with back-to-back 1’36.6 laps. Nipping at the heels of Spies, and the only other man to break into the 1’37’s, was Jakub Smrz and his Guandalini Ducati. Continue reading for the rest of the front row, and the Superpole results.

 

Hopkins Dislocates Hip in Crash at Assen, Racing Sunday Looks Doubtful

04/24/2009 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Hopkins Dislocates Hip in Crash at Assen, Racing Sunday Looks Doubtful john hopkins crash assen motogp 2008

If you were to ask John Hopkins what his least favorite track is right now, we’d bet good money the American would say the Dutch track Assen. The last time Hopper was in Assen, he smash his leg in a huge crash, which left him sitting out of two races, and struggling in pain for the rest of the season. Now, after only four laps around the course this year, Assen has shown its teeth again for Hopper. During the free practice today Hopkins dislocated his hip in another big crash, and there is doubt surrounding his return to riding by Sunday.

 

WSBK: Valencia Race 2 Results

04/06/2009 @ 2:39 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

WSBK: Valencia Race 2 Results valencia race 2 biaggi aprilia 560x371

After his poor start in the first race, further pressure was put on Spies who now stood 35 points behind Noriyuki Haga because of his crash out in Race 2. Surely Haga felt the pressure too, knowing that the American wouldn’t make the same mistakes a second time. With the Championship already playing out in the third stop of the WSBK tour, Race 2 already had more than just a purpose. Continue reading for spoilers from Race 2 of the Valencia World Superbike Races, and to see how Race 2 sorted itself out.

 

WSBK: Valencia Race 1 Results

04/06/2009 @ 2:11 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

WSBK: Valencia Race 1 Results valencia race 1 haga ducati1 560x371

The World Superbike Championship visited Valencia this weekend. With three poles and three wins in a row, all eyes were on Ben Spies at the start of the first Superbike race, wondering if the American could close the 10 point lead that Noriyuki Haga had over him. A sweep of the weekend’s races, could mean that Spies could be leading the series, or at the very least tied with Haga, depending on how the Japanese rider fared. Conversely, Haga with a strong showing could lengthen his early lead over the field. With Spies showing almost a full second on Haga at the Superpole, this would be no easy feat. Continue reading for spoilers from Race 1 of the Valencia World Superbike Races, and to see how Race 1 sorted itself out.

 

Spies Wins Valencia Superpole, Third Pole for 2009

04/04/2009 @ 5:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Spies Wins Valencia Superpole, Third Pole for 2009 167656 fab0048

Ben Spies lead 19 other riders to Superpole victory in Valencia today. While tactics were mixed, Max Biaggi and Tom Sykes were left behind after the first session, and will have to start from the 5th row tomorrow. Joining them will be Ruben Xaus, who crashed out on a fast lap before he had the chance to set a time good enough to qualify.

 

John Hopkins Officially Racing in WSBK with Stiggy Honda

03/19/2009 @ 8:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Officially Racing in WSBK with Stiggy Honda john hopkins

UPDATE: Roberto Rolfo announced on his website that he would be leaving Stiggy Racing, due to “reasons beyond his control.” Those reasons beyond his control would seem to be: John Hopkins joining Stiggy Honda, having sponsorship coming with him, and generally not performing that well last season.

It seems the rumors were true. According to Roadracing World, John Hopkins is officially racing with Stiggy Honda’s World Superbike team. John Hopkins’ agent Bob Moore confirmed the news that that Hopper will be riding a Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR in the World Superbike Championship series, starting with the next round at Valencia, which starts April 3rd.