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.

MotoGP: Ben Spies to Miss Phillip Island Round

10/22/2012 @ 11:11 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Ben Spies to Miss Phillip Island Round Ben Spies Yamaha Racing MotoGP Scott Jones

As if crashing out of the Malaysian GP wasn’t bizarro enough, Ben Spies has announced today that he will be missing the Australian GP, as it has become evident that he injured his shoulder in his wet-weather tumble at Sepang. Although found to have no injuries by the Clinica Mobile staff at the circuit, after undergoing tests in Kuala Lumpur post-race, Spies found that he had sustained an AC shoulder separation, a cracked rib in the upper-chest area, and bruising to his lung.

Returning to the US for treatment on Tuesday, Spies will accordingly miss the MotoGP’s next stop, which is at Phillip Island. His participation in the last round of the season, the Valencian GP, is now in question as well, though it could be possible for the American to be healed enough to race within that time frame.

Though this season has been a string of highly suspicious instances of bad luck for the factory Yamaha rider, Valencia will be important round for Spies, as the post-race test will be the first opportunity for him to ride the Ducati Desmosedici race bike.

Photo of the Week: Keep Your Chin Up Nicky

02/06/2012 @ 4:09 pm, by Scott Jones4 COMMENTS

Photo of the Week: Keep Your Chin Up Nicky photo of the week nicky hayden injury scott jones

About to be his third year as a factory Ducati rider, Nicky Hayden is one of the hardest working men in MotoGP, and is long-overdue for some good luck. But, 2012 is already off to a tough start as Nick was unable to make much out of the Sepang test due to an injured left scapula, and accordingly underwent surgery today to repair cartilage and muscle damage in his left shoulder. Will he be fit to ride the next test at the end of February? Or will he wait until the last pre-season test at Jerez a month later? Only time will tell. Here’s to a speedy and full recovery for the Kentucky Kid.

Nicky Hayden to Undergo More Surgery on His Shoulder

02/05/2012 @ 12:25 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden to Undergo More Surgery on His Shoulder Nicky Hayden Sepang Test 635x443

Ducati Corse rider Nicky Hayden was back in the SF Bay Area this week, and no he wasn’t in town for the Occupy Oakland movement that had the ghetto bird circling above A&R HQ all night. Returning to Fremont, CA to see Doctor to the Stars Dr. Arthur Ting, Hayden’s scans revealed damage to the American’s cartilage in his shoulder and muscles on his back.

These injuries caused Hayden to have to sit out most of the Sepang MotoGP test last week, lapping only a handful of laps each day in Malaysia before letting Ducati test rider Franco Battaini take over. Being the true red-blooded football loving American that he is, Hayden is surely watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, but is scheduled to go under the knife on Monday to further assess and repair his injuries.

Keith Amor Retires From Motorcycle Road Racing

01/26/2012 @ 10:58 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Keith Amor Retires From Motorcycle Road Racing Keith Amor Isle of Man TT 2011 Jensen Beeler 06 635x423

Isle of Man TT star Keith Amor announced today that he will be retiring from motorcycle road racing, after learning that his shoulder would required more surgery. The 39-year-old Scotsman first injured his shoulder at the 2011 Isle of Man TT, where he crashed at both Quarterbridge during practice and at Union Mills during the controversial second Supersport TT, which was started under very wet conditions.

Injuring his shoulder further during the 2011 Ulster GP and unable to full heal, Amor made the following succinct statement on Twitter, “Unfortunately after visiting my surgeon yesterday my worst fears came true, I need more surgery so I have decided to retire from racing.”

Dovizioso Breaks His Collarbone During Training Accident

01/05/2012 @ 4:09 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Dovizioso Breaks His Collarbone During Training Accident Andrea Dovizioso Qatar Repsol Honda Jensen Beeler 635x445

Staying fit during the off-season is critical for any serious motorcycle racer. At the pinnacle of the sport, the off-season raises the stakes even higher as MotoGP riders are differentiated only by minute ticks on a very exacting scale of talent. Keeping one’s body and mind ready for battle is only part of the equation though, and we often see the top riders cross-training with a variety of sports, most notably off-road riding. Of course, with the added pressure to continue training hard in the off-season, there is bound to be accidents and injuries.

Nicky Hayden was caught out last week, as the American broke his shoulder and ribs during an indoor flat-tracking training accident. And this week, the off-season has claimed Monster Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso, as the Italian broke his collarbone while training on his dirt bike. Though the full extent of Dovi’s injuries are not yet known (Tech 3 was between press officers the last we heard), it is expected that the Yamaha rider will be fit enough for MotoGP’s second off-season test January 31st at Sepang.

Nicky Hayden Breaks Shoulder & Ribs in Training Accident

12/29/2011 @ 11:57 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Nicky Hayden Breaks Shoulder & Ribs in Training Accident Nicky Hayden Valencia 635x582

Nicky Hayden’s 2012 is going to get off on the wrong foot, as the American MotoGP racer has reportedly broken his left scapula and fractured two ribs, while training near his home in Owensboro, Kentucky. The news is a bad break for Hayden (no pun intended), as the incident occurred while the Ducati Corse rider was training at a private indoor flat track facility, and was the first time Hayden had been on a motorcycle since breaking his scaphoid at the Valencian GP on November 6th.

Undergoing x-rays, CAT scans, and an MRI, doctors have ruled out the need for surgery at this time for Hayden, though his injuries will be assessed next week by Dr. Arthur Ting out here in sunny Fremont, California. Based on his rate of healing the next few weeks, Hayden may or may not be fit for MotoGP’s first 2012 winter testing session, which is slotted for January 31st. Knowing the Kentucky Kid though, he’ll likely just grit his teeth and git-r-done when the time comes.

Dani Pedrosa Has Shoulder Surgery…Yet Again

06/16/2011 @ 4:11 pm, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Dani Pedrosa Has Shoulder Surgery...Yet Again Dani Pedrosa Qatar GP Scott Jones

Dani Pedrosa underwent yet another shoulder surgery today, this time to fix a loose bone fragment that had become dislodged during the Spaniard’s recuperation from the broken collarbone he suffered from his crash at Le Mans during the French GP. How this complication with his shoulder occurred is a subject of much contention in the MotoGP paddock, as the Spanish press is adamant that Pedrosa re-injured his shoulder in a supermoto crash. HRC however denies this rumor, though the Japanese company has not offered a counter-explanation for Pedrosa’s current situation. The fact remains though that Dani Pedrosa’s healing process has been pushed back further, and Repsol Honda is not sure that Dani will be fit enough to participate in the upcoming Dutch TT.

Dani Pedrosa Out for Silverstone – And Then Some?

06/06/2011 @ 12:52 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Dani Pedrosa Out for Silverstone   And Then Some? 2011 MotoGP Catalunya Scott Jones

Dani Pedrosa on his blog today announced that he would not compete in the British GP at Silverstone next weekend, instead opting to heal his collarbone further, which he broke a the French GP several weeks ago. Though Pedrosa was on the fence about competing in the Catalan GP, it comes as no surprise that the Spanish rider will sit out Silverstone, now having missed his home race in Barcelona.

What does come as surprising though is the very credible rumors that Pedrosa has re-injured his shoulder while doing some Supermoto training, and because of this incident, may sit out the rest of the season (which may have prompted the blog post itself). Boom goes the dynamite.

Catalunya Ends Colin Edwards’ 141 MotoGP Starting Streak

06/05/2011 @ 6:01 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Catalunya Ends Colin Edwards 141 MotoGP Starting Streak Colin Edwards motogp catalunya scott jones

If there’s a Cal Ripken Jr. of MotoGP, it would have to be the Texan Tornado himself, Colin Edwards III. For the past 141 MotoGP races, the American has been on the starting line come Sunday morning (and Saturday morning if it’s for the Dutch TT).

This weekend’s race at Catalunya would have been Edwards’ 142nd GP start, but medical officials were not too keen on Colin’s idea of gridding-up with the MotoGP field, and doing a single lap to maintain his streak (CEIII broke his collarbone on Friday). Thus, Edwards’ record for consecutive GP starts will have to stand at 141 races.

Dani Pedrosa to Miss the Catalan GP

06/02/2011 @ 8:07 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Dani Pedrosa to Miss the Catalan GP Dani Pedrosa MotoGP pit Scott Jones

More bad luck for Dani Pedrosa, as Repsol Honda has announced that the Spanish rider will indeed miss the Catalan GP this weekend, electing instead to heal further his broken collarbone. Pedrosa injured his shoulder at the French GP two weeks ago, clipping the curb after he crashed in an incident that involved Marco Simoncelli. For his part, Simoncelli had to do a ride-through penalty, and will be meeting with the MotoGP Race Direction during this race weekend to further explain his actions on and off the race circuit.

For Pedrosa, it was hoped that he could recuperate in-time for his home GP outside of Barcelona; however, due the bone healing slower than anticipated he has been forced to follow a more conservative treatment. Now the question is which race Pedrosa will return back to MotoGP at, as the MotoGP calendar is now hitting six races in the next eight weeks. Pedrosa’s injury comes at the worst time of the season, and hopefully he can be back on the saddle of the Honda RC212V by the Silverstone round.