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: The Face of a Champion

10/09/2012 @ 2:26 pm, by Scott Jones13 COMMENTS

Trackside Tuesday: The Face of a Champion Max Biaggi Miller Motorsports Park WSBK Scott Jones

Even before I met Max Biaggi in 2011, I had the sense that here was someone who takes himself and his racing pretty seriously. From the immaculately trimmed facial hair, to his manner in the pit box, to his long career as a motorcycle racer, if there is anything he takes lightly, it is certainly not racing.

Some riders are approachable, quick to smile, who naturally put others at ease even on race weekends. Biaggi is not among this group. But I didn’t appreciate just how intense he is when he’s at work until, as one of my contributions to benefit Riders for Health, I decided to ask him to sign a print I was donating at last year’s Miller WSBK round.

I had brought a matted print of Biaggi from 2010 with me, and as I approached the track on Saturday morning I considered that it would likely fetch a higher price, and thus a greater donation to Riders for Health, if it bore Max’s signature. So I set about getting that done with no idea how easy or difficult it might be.

First I approached the Aprilia media officer, a pleasant fellow who worked with me, half in Italian and half in English, to come up with a plan to approach his star rider. He suggested we talk to someone in the pit box, someone who knew Max better than he did in his recently acquired role with the team.

We descended into the Aprilia garage and found someone whose exact role I never understood, but who also liked the idea of doing something for Riders for Health. He did not, however, care to be the one to bring it directly to Max. The three of us considered the situation and appealed to one of the senior mechanics, who gave us a sympathetic look and said in gestures instead of words that he wanted no part of the business.

We stood to the side of the box, waiting for inspiration, and I wondered if the plan were doomed. Max spoke to mechanics as if discussing matters of life and death. Team members approached him respectfully, presented their concerns for his comment, and left him alone. In some garages the guys joke and there is music in the business of racing motorbikes. In Max’s garage, it’s more like a war room, its business deadly serious.

Photo of the Week: Olé!

10/03/2011 @ 4:51 pm, by Scott Jones4 COMMENTS

Photo of the Week: Olé! photo of the week Carlos Checa WSBK Champion Scott Jones

Congratulations to Carlos Checa, who is finally a World Champion, having clinched the World Superbike title at Magny Cours with three races to go. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

WSBK: Jonathan Rea In Surgery to Miss Aragon Round

06/15/2011 @ 12:34 pm, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

WSBK: Jonathan Rea In Surgery to Miss Aragon Round Jonathan Rea Castrol Honda WSBK 635x444

Jonathan Rea underwent surgery today to repair a broken right radius, and will miss this weekend’s World Superbike round at Motorland Aragon. The Castrol Honda rider suffered the injury, along with a now-ubiquitous broken collarbone and some injuries to his right foot during a warm-up crash at last weekend’s Misano round. Rea will not be replaced this weekend, leaving only teammate Ruben Xaus to ride for the team at Aragon.

Rea fractured his right radius and left clavicle in the crash at Misano’s Turn 11 on Sunday. That day he explained, “I had a crash yesterday which needed some stitches in my arm and then a 230kph crash this morning at one of the fastest corners on the calendar.” Rea continued, “Of course, I’m frustrated and I have some injuries that I want to take time to heal properly. We’ll have to miss Aragon next week, unfortunately, but Brno is a month off and the doctors tell me that the break in my arm would normally keep someone off work for three weeks.”

Max Biaggi Signs with Aprilia for Another Two Years

10/14/2010 @ 1:47 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

Max Biaggi Signs with Aprilia for Another Two Years Max Biaggi WSBK World Championship Aprilia 2 635x421

Many expected Max Biaggi to retire at the end of the 2010 World Superbike season, but the 39-year-old still has some fight in him yet, as he’s signed-on with Aprilia Racing for another two years according to reports out of the Italian press. Expected to be announced tomorrow in a festival at Noale (home of Aprilia), Biaggi is the first Italian to win the World Superbike Championship, and this year also the first time an Aprilia has ever won the World Superbike Championship. You can expect the party in Noale to be appropriately rowdy.

Source: Il Messaggero via MotoBlog.it

The Roman Emperor Clinches World Superbike

09/26/2010 @ 4:59 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The Roman Emperor Clinches World Superbike Maxi Biaggi Aprilia WSBK championship Imola victory 623x464

Without giving too much away about this weekend’s WSBK race, Max Biaggi clinched the World Superbike Championship at Imola this weekend. For fans in Italy, this moment is being celebrated heavily, as an Italian rider, on an Italian bike, during an Italian race, has clinched a major championship title. For Biaggi fans, this title has been a long-time in the making, as The Emperor hasn’t won a championship title since his 250GP days.

WSBK Silly Season: Haslam to BMW, Fabrizio to Alstare Suzuki, & Haga to an Aprilia [UPDATED]

09/21/2010 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

WSBK Silly Season: Haslam to BMW, Fabrizio to Alstare Suzuki, & Haga to an Aprilia [UPDATED] James Toseland Crash

UPDATE 3: Michel Fabrizio has signed-on with Alstare Suzuki team for 2011.

UPDATE 2: Leon Haslam has signed with the BMW Factory Squad.

UPDATE: It’s being reported that Noriyuki Haga has agreed to ride with the DFX team on a factory Aprilia RSV4, with  an announcement delayed out of deference to Biaggi’s impending WSBK crowning.

While the MotoGP silly season is just starting to wind down, the World Superbike shuffling of riders is apparently just getting underway. So far this silly season we’ve seen Marco Melandri make the switch into WSBK Racing, joining the young Eugene Laverty in the Sterilgarda Yamaha squad, and clearly displacing James Toseland from a job. Johnny Rea has also been in the news, confirming that he’d be with Ten Kate Honda next season, despite being only two years into a three year contract, which was a strange announcement at the very least.

After Ducati’s little spat with Infront Motor Sports last month, the Xerox Ducati Team will be no more in 2011, leaving factory riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki S.O.L. when it comes to gainful employment, which is where our fist batch of silly season rumors starts us. If Moto.it‘s Carlo Baldi is to be believed (he is the listed press officer for Althea Ducati after all), Haga will find himself on a satellite Aprilia ride, while Michel Fabrizio will go to Alstare Suzuki. If you’re a die-hard WSBK fan you may realize that means that current Alstare Suzuki star Leon Haslam must be finding work elsewhere, with Baldi putting the British rider in the factory BMW squad. Still with us?

Vermeulen Hopes for WSBK Return at Portimao

03/18/2010 @ 8:57 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Vermeulen Hopes for WSBK Return at Portimao Vermeulen Kawasaki WSBK 560x373

After a nasty crash during Race 2 of World Superbike’s stop at Phillip Island, Christopher Vermeulen will not have to undergo surgery on his knee, meaning the Australian rider could compete in the upcoming Portimao race that is on March 28th. Vermeulen reportedly doesn’t have full movement of his leg, but the he still hopes to be on his PBM Kawasaki at the Portugese track, gobbling up points in what he hopes could be a run for the WSBK Championship. See Chris talk about his condition after the jump.

WSBK: Another Nail-Biter for Race 2 at Phillip Island

02/28/2010 @ 9:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

WSBK: Another Nail Biter for Race 2 at Phillip Island WSBK Race 2 Phillip Island Checa 560x351

Phillip Island served up another nail-biter for WSBK fans this Sunday. With the race winner making a last lap pass, no one could have guessed the top four finishers in this race. With a few familiar faces, along with a few new hopefuls, wrapping up the first stop on the World Superbike Championship only wets the appetite further for the rest of the WSBK season. Rider quotes, video highlights, and race standings after the jump.

WBSK: Photo Finish for Race 1 at Phillip Island

02/28/2010 @ 3:54 pm, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

WBSK: Photo Finish for Race 1 at Phillip Island WSBK Race 1 Phillip Island finish blur 560x390

The wait is over, World Superbike racing action is back as Race 1 was underway at Phillip Island today. Perhaps a glimpse into the racing year, the action from down under did not disappoint race fans, and sets up WSBK to have a excitingly close season. Click past the jump for all the racing news of Race 1 at Phillip Island, including rider quotes, video highlights, and race standings.

WSBK: Superpole from Phillip Island – Motorcycling Racing is Back in Action Down Under

02/27/2010 @ 2:00 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

WSBK: Superpole from Phillip Island   Motorcycling Racing is Back in Action Down Under Leon Haslam WSBK Superpole Phillip Island 560x342

The World Superbike Championship has returned to us, helping fill the winter snow & rain blues. Coming to us this weekend from Phillip Island, Australia, WSBK shows some new faces in the Superpole mix now that Ben Spies has left World Superbike for greener pastures. With the weather holding out, Superpole at PI had some surprising results, and some not so surprising results. Click past the break to get the low down.