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.

Dani Pedrosa Goes in for Shoulder Surgery – Questionable for Catalan GP Participation

05/19/2011 @ 10:49 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Dani Pedrosa Goes in for Shoulder Surgery   Questionable for Catalan GP Participation Dani Pedrosa shoulder injury Scott Jones

Dani Pedrosa seems fated to ride forever injured, having broken his right collarbone at the French GP during an incident with Marco Simoncelli. Coming off serious issues with his left shoulder, breaking that collarbone at the Motegi round last year, Pedrosa has to contend again with a performance limiting ailment, during what otherwise seemed to be a promising season. After contemplating his options for a few days and talking further with his doctors, Pedrosa decided to undergo surgery for his broken shoulder, having a titanium plate inserted to hold the fracture together.

Dani Pedrosa Has Successful Second Surgery

04/06/2011 @ 7:59 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Dani Pedrosa Has Successful Second Surgery Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 635x421

As planned, Dani Pedrosa went under the knife after the Spanish GP, hoping to relieve the pain in his shoulder caused by the plate that was decompressing his left subclavian artery. The procedure was preformed by vascular surgeon Dr. César García-Madrid and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joaquim Casañas at the Teknon Medical Center in Barcelona, and the operation has been considered a success after tests showed a return of subclavian flow.

Update on Dani Pedrosa’s Shoulder Condition

03/23/2011 @ 5:24 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Update on Dani Pedrosas Shoulder Condition Dani Pedrosa Vector 635x480

Leading into the Qatar GP the talk was all about Repsol Honda, namely the blistering fast paces of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, who seemed to be on a different level from everyone else, even teammate Andrea Dovizioso. However after seeing Pedrosa’s race performance be hampered by a lingering shoulder injury that, which was causing his arm to go numb and lose strength during the race, question marks began to develop over whether the Spaniard would be able to fight for the Championship like he did last season.

Responding to these worries, Repsol Honda has released a press release that talks more about Pedrosa’s shoulder condition, which was questionable at the end of the Qatar GP. After returning from Doha, medical checks performed on Pedrosa confirmed that his shoulder was not 100%, but was only suffering from a small stretch in the plexus, which is gradually improving, but will need more time to finish healing completely.

Video: Rossi Riding the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP

01/31/2011 @ 6:47 am, by Jensen Beeler8 COMMENTS

Video: Rossi Riding the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP valentino rossi ducati 1198sp misano test 5 635x423

More eye candy for Ducatisti and Valentino Rossi fans, as Ducati has released a video of Rossi’s test at Misano on board the 1198 SP. Testing his shoulder’s fitness level, Rossi admitted to being in considerable pain during the test, which doesn’t bode well for the Italian as the 2011 season rapidly approaches. Before Rossi will take to the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 under the lights of Qatar, MotoGP is slated to run at Sepang this week. With such little time passing since this test on the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP, we imagine the outing at Malaysia will still be painful for the Italian, as he tries to further hone in the GP11 for racing duty.

Rossi Tests Shoulder Riding on a Ducati 1198 at Misano

01/26/2011 @ 10:46 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Rossi Tests Shoulder Riding on a Ducati 1198 at Misano valentino rossi ducati 1198sp misano test 2 635x423

Valentino Rossi was back in the saddle today, testing his shoulder at the Italian Misano track ahead of the official MotoGP test scheduled at Sepang next month. Barred from turning a wheel on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 because of the MotoGP winter testing ban, Rossi had to make do with a WSBK-spec 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP to test his fitness levels.

Rossi’s fitness for the upcoming season is a large variable for Ducati, as the race team will need Rossi’s input at Sepang to not only further setup the GP11 for the nine-time World Champion, but his input is likely to find its way into all the Desmosedici’s on the MotoGP grid (Hector Barbera was just recently quoted as saying as much).

If his shoulder is still not up to racing levels, Rossi may not be able to fully diagnose what he needs from the GP11, setting Ducati Corse back a few steps from the rest of the competition. A statement from Rossi and a slew of hi-res photos await you after the jump.

Melandri’s Shoulder Healing After Successful Surgery

12/30/2010 @ 5:30 pm, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

Melandris Shoulder Healing After Successful Surgery Marco Melandri WSBK test 635x389

This off-season would have been bumpy enough for Marco Melandri, moving from the Gresini Honda MotoGP team to the factory Yamaha WSBK squad, but he’s been suffering from a “big pain with no reason,” that forced him to go for a scan on December 17th, and then have surgery on his right shoulder. Originally, even the official WSBK site posted that it was a “false alarm,” as “a scan did not reveal anything.” However, the Italian underwent a successful surgery just before Christmas. It appears that Melandri will be ready for racing when the season begins in two months’ time.

According to the Yamaha Racing, “the Italian opted for a clean-up procedure in order to reduce risk of further aggravation…there was no damage to ligaments therefore a straightforward ‘tidying’ took place and a ‘staple’ attached – that will erode naturally over time – will add extra stability.” Melandri’s doctor, Giuseppe Porcellini, recently performed surgery on Valentino Rossi’s shoulder. Melandri was restless in the hospital after the surgery, as most would be, simply tweeting on Christmas Eve, “paìnfull [sic] night but in a very good mood.. Wanna go home! :-)”

Valentino Rossi Goes in for Surgery

11/15/2010 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

Valentino Rossi Goes in for Surgery Valentino Ross water Sepang 635x586

While Dani Pedrosa has been spared the surgeon’s knife for his broken collarbone, Valentino Rossi underwent his surgery this weekend for his injured shoulder, which will see the new Ducati rider out of action for 90 days. Rossi’s shoulder, which was a bigger factor in the 2010 season than the rider’s broken leg that saw him miss four races, was injured in April during a motocross cross-training accident, and plagued the Italian throughout the latter half of the 2010 season.

Surgeons at the Cervesi di Cattolica hospital preformed an arthroscopic procedure on Rossi’s supraspinatus tendon and glenoid ligament, encountering no complications in the procedure. Recovery times for this type of surgery typically last 12 weeks, which should mean that Rossi will be fit enough to test early next year at MotoGP’s second testing session.

Dani Pedrosa Won’t Require Surgery

11/15/2010 @ 7:30 am, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Dani Pedrosa Wont Require Surgery Dani Pedrosa Valencia test 635x423

After breaking his collarbone in Japan, Dani Pedrosa went through tremendous effort to return to MotoGP racing as soon as possible, and underwent surgery that installed a metal plate into his shoulder, allowing the Spaniard to swing a leg over his Honda RC212V at Phillip Island. While the daunting task of riding only two weeks after surgery proved too much for Pedrosa, the top Honda rider still took part in the Valencian and Portuguese GP’s, despite suffering from pain, a loss of strength, and numbness in his left arm.

Worried that the condition could be due to nerve damage, Pedrosa was faced with a potentially career-ending situation as he flew back to Spain last week to undergo tests. Fortunately for the Spanish rider, his condition appears to stem from inflammation around the nerves and in his collarbone, which are causing his symptoms. Doctors have advised Pedrosa to rest for four weeks, while he undergoes inflammation treatment, and then start his rehabilitation in December.

Rossi Considers Skipping Last Two MotoGP Races – Fires A Shot Across Yamaha’s Bow

09/20/2010 @ 4:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Rossi Considers Skipping Last Two MotoGP Races   Fires A Shot Across Yamahas Bow Valentino Rossi fans VR46 635x422

Much of the talk about Valentino Rossi and his injuries have centered on the Italian’s leg, which was broken with a compound fracture at Mugello earlier this year. Despite causing Rossi to miss several races, the Italian’s biggest physical concern hasn’t been his leg, but instead his shoulder, which he injured in April while motocross training. The shoulder has been a lingering issue for Rossi ever since his return at Brno, which culminated this weekend with the Fiat-Yamaha team actually having to setup the M1 at Aragon to work around the injury.

With a lackluster performance this weekend, not to mention a disappointing return to GP racing in general, Rossi announced after Sunday’s race that he was considering having his shoulder operated on after the three fly-away races (Motegi, Sepang, and Phillip Island), which would effectively mean that the nine-time World Champion would miss MotoGP’s last two stops at Estoril and Valencia. MotoMatters has once again done a superb job of transcribing Rossi’s interaction with the media on the subject, which adds some context to this development (read the transcript here)

This announcement is a big bombshell for the Yamaha camp, which could see its star rider, if we can still say that, again vacating from the team to heal his injuries. However again reading between the lines of the Italian, Rossi’s revelation this weekend has about as much to do with an injured shoulder as it does with putting pressure on Yamaha to release him from his contract in time to test the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 at Valencia.

Serenity.

09/12/2010 @ 2:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS