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.

American Suzuki & Dainese Sign Elena Myers

01/25/2011 @ 9:10 am, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

American Suzuki & Dainese Sign Elena Myers Elena Myers SuzukiScoopFans race livery 635x422

Finally we get some good news on Elena Myers’ search for funding for the 2011 season. The 17 y/o phenom spent the 2010 kicking the boys’ butts in AMA Supersport, even winning Race 1 at Infineon, and becoming the first woman to win a professional American motorcycle race (depending on how you look at it), only to be left searching high and low for racing support for the 2011 season.

She’s cute and she’s fast, and we were fairly dumb-founded to hear she was having trouble finding sponsors to go ride for this season, but luckily that all seems to be past the California native now. Announced this past weekend that she’d been signed to American Suzuki, Myers has also secured Dainese as an apparel sponsor for 2011.  To go along with wearing the Devil on her back, Myers has a very interesting sponsorship deal that American Suzuki has put together, which sees the Californian using social media to engage fans with the Suzuki brand.

Crescent Suzuki Confirms Talking to Hopper

12/10/2010 @ 11:09 am, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Crescent Suzuki Confirms Talking to Hopper John Hopkins Daytona AMA American Superbike 1024b 635x423

Being the fine British blokes that they are, MCN was able to get ahold of Crescent Suzuki Boss Jack Valentine, and ask him about the validity to the rumors suggesting that the British Superbike team is pursuing John Hopkins as a possible rider for the 2011 season. Confirming that the rumors were true, but that nothing has been agreed to yet, Valentine told MCN that “Crescent are in discussions with former MotoGP star John Hopkins, who is now fully fit again and finished on the podium in the last two rounds of the AMA series.”

John Hopkins Confirmed for AMA with M4 Suzuki

01/30/2010 @ 6:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Confirmed for AMA with M4 Suzuki John Hopkins M4 Suzuki 2 560x372

We can finally retire the Hoppergate tag (saying this pretty much assures its continued use unfortunately), M4 Suzuki has issued a press release that confirms what Asphalt & Rubber already knew (hat tip to The Sparrow), John Hopkins will be riding in the AMA American Superbike team with Team Hammer. This news comes despite the fact that FB Corse has repeatedly insisted that the American rider was committed to them for the 2010 season, and they now chastise Hopper for backing out of the team at the last minute.

BREAKING: John Hopkins to Race in AMA for 2010

01/26/2010 @ 2:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

BREAKING: John Hopkins to Race in AMA for 2010 john hopkins m4 suzuki 560x306

Our sources are indicating that John Hopkins is close to closing a deal to race in the AMA Pro Racing series for 2010, and will be making an announcement about his contract with M4 Suzuki (Team Hammer) as early as this weekend (but more likely after Hopper’s test on the M4 Suzuki scheduled for next Tuesday the 2nd). This news seems to be the final chapter (we hope) in the ever increasing Hoppergate scandal, and also seems to be the last nail in the coffin for FB Corse‘s hopes of having the American ride on their MotoGP team.

Hoppergate: FB Corse Angry at Foreign Press

01/18/2010 @ 4:42 pm, by Jensen Beeler2 COMMENTS

Hoppergate: FB Corse Angry at Foreign Press John Hopkins hear no evil1 560x373

Hoppergate continues on as it would seem MotoGP upstart, FB Corse, has their kneepucks in a bunch about the press they’ve been recieving lately from “websites on the other side of the ocean.” This would seem to be a poke in the eye to publications like RoadRacing World (and others), who have cast some doubt on John Hopkins’ commitment to FB Corse, as the former MotoGP rider has yet to sign a contract with the Italian team.

John Hopkins Testing in the AMA – Adios FB Corse?

01/14/2010 @ 6:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

John Hopkins Testing in the AMA   Adios FB Corse? john hopkins rizla 560x394

Something is up in the John Hopkins camp. First the American GP/WSBK racer was linked with MotoGP upstart FB Corse. A few days after the team announced a deal with Hopper, his manager said nothing was signed, and rumors about his involvement in the AMA began to ramp up.

While FB Corse continues to insist that Hopper will be riding with the Italian team next season, the American seems to be making every indication that he will be returning home with RoadRacing World is reporting that Hopkins will testing a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 with Team Hammer (aka Team M4 Suzuki) at Fontana on Februrary 2nd & 3rd.