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.

WSBK: Althea Racing Returns to Ducati – Will Field Niccolò Canepa with an EVO Entry in 2014

12/19/2013 @ 5:16 pm, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

WSBK: Althea Racing Returns to Ducati   Will Field Niccolò Canepa with an EVO Entry in 2014 althea racing laguna seca jensen beeler 635x414

The Althea Racing team is to switch back to Ducati from Aprilia for the 2014 World Superbike season. After their split with Ducati over development of the Panigale at the end of 2012, the Italian team are to return to the Bologna factory fold and race the Panigale in 2014.

They will do so on a different footing to their previous relationship with Ducati, however. Next season, Althea will race the Panigale 1199 R as an EVO entry in WSBK, the subclass set up to allow a more affordable entry into World Superbikes.

AMA Resolves Scheduling Conflict with its Mid-Ohio Round and the Laguna Seca World Superbike Round

12/17/2013 @ 3:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

AMA Resolves Scheduling Conflict with its Mid Ohio Round and the Laguna Seca World Superbike Round calendar 635x476

There are days where we truly wonder about the future of AMA Pro Road Racing. Like the rest of the motorcycle industry, America’s premier motorcycle racing series was devastated by the recession and tough economy; that is factor external to the series, and no one could fault AMA Racing for facing some challenges because of it.

However beyond the tough economy, the national-level series has perpetrated so many unforced errors upon itself that when it comes to its management, you sometimes have to wonder if there is anyone awake at the switch.

Take the latest gaffe from AMA Pro Racing: the scheduling of the Mid-Ohio round during the World Superbike weekend at Laguna Seca. We can only imagine the surprise of riders, teams, and sponsors when they realized that the recently announced Mid-Ohio round was in full-conflict with World Superbike’s stop at Laguna Seca, a round that the AMA has typically been the support class of.

Aaron Yates and Geoff May to Race in WSBK with EBR

12/05/2013 @ 2:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler35 COMMENTS

Aaron Yates and Geoff May to Race in WSBK with EBR erik buell racing logo 635x425

In October when Erik Buell Racing announced that it would be making the move into the World Superbike Championship, the American sport bike company wasn’t saying much about its racing program.

Geoff May soon intoned his participation with the team, confirming his presence in WSBK to Greg White on Greg’s Garage, though May’s teammate was unknown at the time.

That mystery seems to be over, as World Superbike media front-man Michael Hill has released a list of confirmed entries for the 2014 World Superbike season, with Yate’s and May’s names listed for the Erik Buell Racing entry.

Welkom Back: World Superbike Returns to South Africa

12/02/2013 @ 1:06 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

Welkom Back: World Superbike Returns to South Africa Phakisa Freeway track aerial

After a three-year hiatus, the World Superbike Championship is returning to South Africa for the 2014 season. Welkom’s Phakisa Freeway is currently slotted on the provisional calendar to host WSBK on October 19th, assuming the track can pass FIM homologation, and the event organizers, GAS Sports, can secure the necessary finances.

Set to host both the Superbike and Supersport classes, South Africa will be the penultimate round in the 2014 World Superbike Championship. A venue that has provided close racing in the past, Phakisa Freeway is a welcomed addition to WSBK, and helps bring the series out of its European-centric stupor.

2014 World Superbike Provisional Calendar Released

11/30/2013 @ 12:31 pm, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

2014 World Superbike Provisional Calendar Released tom sykes kawasaki racing laguna seca jensen beeler 635x421

At long last, the FIM and Dorna have released a calendar for the World Superbike and World Supersport classes for 2014. The calendar features fourteen World Superbike events, but it is still very much a provisional list, with three of the fourteen still subject to contract, and the final race still marked as to be confirmed, with neither the location nor the country known.

MV Agusta WSBK Team Announces Claudio Corti as Rider

11/25/2013 @ 11:45 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MV Agusta WSBK Team Announces Claudio Corti as Rider mv agusta f4 rr technical line drawing 635x423

After making the announcement that MV Agusta would return to the World Superbike Championship this year, the Italian team has announced its sole rider for the 2014 season: Claudio Corti.

Seeing his spot in MotoGP with the NGM Forward taken by Aleix Espargaro, Corti returns to the WSBK paddock, and will field an MV Agusta F4RR this year with the factory-backed Yakhnich Motorsport team.

MV Agusta Reparto Corse Returns to World Superbike

11/15/2013 @ 2:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MV Agusta Reparto Corse Returns to World Superbike mv agusta f4rr wsbk 635x424

True to his words at EICMA earlier this month, Giovanni Castiglioni has brought the iconic MV Agusta name back to World Superbike racing. MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s return to WSBK will be in partnership with the Yakhnich Motorsport Team, as Russian businessman Alexander Yakhnich is said to be financing the racing effort.

For those that may not instantly recognize the Russian name, Yakhnich Motorsport is the organiser of World Superbike’s round in Russia, and the outfit was the team behind Sam Lowe’s World Supersport Championship this year on a semi-factory Yamaha YZF-R6.

WSBK: Rule Changes See the End of Superpole Qualifying

11/15/2013 @ 1:00 pm, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

WSBK: Rule Changes See the End of Superpole Qualifying tom sykes mr superpole 635x421

The World Superbike championship remains in a state of flux, despite the good news emerging today about the 2014 grid (Feelracing taking on the Ducati factory team, MV Agusta expanding into World Superbikes, and Michel Fabrizio joining Grillini).

The Superbike Commission met at Valencia to agree further rule changes to the series for 2014, as part of the push to revitalize the series. Some of the rules are cost-cutting measures, others are aimed at making the series a more attractive TV package, while some are aimed at providing a more homogenous set of basic rules between the World Superbike and MotoGP series.

The biggest change – and the change that will be mourned the most – is the loss of the current three-stage Superpole qualifying format. Instead of having three Superpole sessions, with the slowest riders being dropped after each session, World Superbikes is to adopt a system similar to MotoGP, where the fastest riders in free practice go straight through to the second and decisive qualifying session, the rest having a second chance in a first qualifying session.

Aprilia Racing Making a Return to MotoGP for the 2016 Season — Just in Time for a Rule Change?

11/05/2013 @ 10:43 am, by David Emmett10 COMMENTS

Aprilia Racing Making a Return to MotoGP for the 2016 Season    Just in Time for a Rule Change? aleix espargaro motogp aspar jensen beeler 635x423

There is a lot of fascinating news coming out of this week’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan: the boom in smaller capacity motorcycles, an upgraded Fireblade, a massive push from MV Agusta, but the show is also making headlines which will affect motorcycle racing as well.

Today at the EICMA, during a presentation on Aprilia’s future plans, Piaggio CEO Roberto Colaninno announced that the Italian manufacturer is aiming to make a return to the MotoGP class as a factory entry in 2016.

WSBK: Marco Melandri Confirms Move to Aprilia Racing

11/02/2013 @ 2:03 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

WSBK: Marco Melandri Confirms Move to Aprilia Racing marco melandri distractions wsbk jensen beeler 635x423

With BMW Motorrad pulling the plug on its World Superbike racing effort, and letting the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK team disband, speculation has been rife as to where riders Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies would land for the 2014 WSBK season. We already know that Chaz will join Davide Giugliano at Ducati Corse next season, but what about Marco?

Well according to the Italian this week, Melandri will fly the Tricolore with Aprilia Racing for 2014 — presumably taking Eugene Laverty’s spot in the factory-run team. Lapping around Jerez on an RSV4 at the end-of-the-season WSBK test, Melandri’s move is perhaps not a shock for anyone following World Superbike, and the announcement already makes him a favorite for the championship next season.