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.

2013 WSBK Private Phillip Island Test Day 1 Times: Laverty Leads as New Surface Causes Crashfest

02/14/2013 @ 1:03 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

2013 WSBK Private Phillip Island Test Day 1 Times: Laverty Leads as New Surface Causes Crashfest Leon Camier Fixi Crescent Suzuki 635x422

While the Moto2 and Moto3 riders finish up their test at Valencia, on the other side of the world, the World Superbike and World Supersport riders are beginning the final run in to the season opener in 10 days’ time.

They started today with the first of two days of private testing, the first chance the riders get to see the resurfaced Phillip Island track. The overall reaction to the new surface was very positive, though the lack of rubber on the track caused a spot of mayhem in the morning, with several riders crashing out.

Fastest man of the day was Eugene Laverty on the factory Aprilia, the Irishman circulating at lap record pace, but still a second off the pole record. Leon Camier put the Fixi Suzuki into 2nd spot, ahead of the Pata Hondas of Johnny Rea and Leon Haslam, while Marco Melandri ended the day in 5th. Carlos Checa did not ride, as the 2011 World Champion was suffering with a stomach bug.

This is the MV Agusta Corse ParkinGO Supersport Race Bike

02/01/2013 @ 11:49 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

This is the MV Agusta Corse ParkinGO Supersport Race Bike MV Agusta F3 Corse Parkingo Team 635x451

Debuting today at the MV Agusta HQ in Varese, Italy, the MV Agusta Corse ParkinGO supersport team has unveiled its MV Agusta F3 race bike. The Italian company’s formal return to the World Superbike paddock, MV Agusta Corse will begin its racing project in supersport, though a return to WSBK racing with the MV Agusta F4RR is featured on the team’s road map.

To do the riding duty, the the MV Agusta Corse ParkinGO team has tapped Roberto Rolfo and Christian Iddon to do the honors. The two riders will have their work cutout for them in the World Supersport Championship, having to develop a brand new race bike, but at least its a very good looking one.

MV Agusta Racing in WSS with ParkinGO Factory Team

11/23/2012 @ 1:49 am, by Jensen Beeler6 COMMENTS

MV Agusta Racing in WSS with ParkinGO Factory Team MV Agusta F3 675 01

MV Agusta is returning to its racing heritage next season, as the Italian company has announced that it will be fielding a factory World Supersport effort with the venerable ParkinGO team in 2013. Forging a three-year contract, ParkinGO will race the MV Agusta F3 675 in WSS, with MV Agusta providing technical support on the F3 from the factory in Varese.

Inked on what would have been Claudio Castiglioni’s 65th birthday, the agreement sees the return of MV Agusta to the World Superbike Championship series, and could be a stepping stone for the Italian brand back into the Superbike class at a later time.

A prudent ally, ParkinGO is no stranger to WSS or WSBK, having won the World Supersport title in 2011, and making a strong showing in the 2012 World Superbike season, both with Chaz Davies.

Not Homologated: Ducati 1199 Panigale & MV Agusta F3

02/09/2012 @ 11:48 am, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Not Homologated: Ducati 1199 Panigale & MV Agusta F3 Ducati 1199 Panigale Supersport trim 04 635x476

UPDATE: On 2/10/2012, the FIM released an updated homologation list, which includes the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S for racing in the World Superstock 1000 Cup.

The regulations for the 2012 World Superbike Championship are out, and two names are noticeably not present from the homologation lists for World Superbike and World Supersport: the Ducati 1199 Panigale and the MV Agusta F3. That’s right, the two biggest motorcycles to debut in 2012 have not yet been blessed to compete in this season’s two premier production motorcycle racing classes.

Rumor: Ducati 799 Supersport for 2013?

01/09/2012 @ 4:13 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Rumor: Ducati 799 Supersport for 2013? Ducati 1199 Panigale aerial 635x449

Now that the 2012 model year motorcycles have debuted (though we still expect a few mid-year releases), the speculation can now begin for the 2013 model year machines. Wasting no time in this process, the Italian press is afire with rumors of a Ducati 799 superbike model to compliment the recently released Ducati 1199 Panigale.

A rumor of this nature, this early in the year, is certainly an interesting one. There should be little debate over the fact that Borgo Panigale has a supersport variant of the 1199 superbike already figured out, tested, & ready for prime time, and our Bothan spies confirm just as much to us. The details of such a bike though, now that’s where the devil resides.

Team Alstare Racing an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport?

12/16/2011 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

Team Alstare Racing an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport? MV Agusta F3 Serie Oro 635x517

You can’t keep a good race team down, as talk in the World Superbike paddock this week has been swirling around the Alstare Racing team. One of several teams to be on the receiving end of Suzuki’s withdrawal from the major racing series, Alstare found its factory-support from Suzuki draw to a close at the conclusion of the 2011 WSBK Championship season. We use the words “factory support” loosely of course, as Alstare Suzuki had been developing the Suzuki GSX-R1000 almost exclusively in-house, receiving only production OEM parts from Suzuki when needed.

As Suzuki shut its doors to WSBK and MotoGP racing, in the hopes of saving money to buy its stock back from minority shareholder Volkswagen (among other things), the Alstare Team Principal Franics Batta vowed that he would race with the Japanese manufacturer, or not race at all. News then came out that linked Team Alstare to possibly taking over the Kawasaki Factory WSBK team, which would later be handed to World Supersport’s Provec Motocard Kawasaki team. Other rumors linked Batta as interested in campaigning with MV Agusta, though the Belgian team owner could not get a callback from Varese.

Progress has seemingly been made on that front though, as Alstare Racing is reportedly closing in on a deal with the Italian company to campaign an MV Agusta F3 in World Supersport, with the relationship possibly growing to include an MV Agusta F4 RR in a seaon’s time.

World Superbike Updates Its 2012 Provisional Calendar

10/13/2011 @ 3:45 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

World Superbike Updates Its 2012 Provisional Calendar Carlos Checa Althea Ducati 635x403

World Superbike has released presumably its final revision to the Provisional World Superbike Championship Calendar (still with us here?). Announcing that Portimão will now be the penultimate round on the calendar, the Portuguese Circuit has been moved up to earlier in the year, and now makes Magny-Cours the production series’s final stop. Other changes include confirming Imola as the series’s second stop, which comes as no surprise to us.

What is surprising though is that this latest updated schedule by Infront and the FIM shows that the round originally scheduled for March 4th, rumored to be at Sepang, has been sacked. Originially intended to help World Superbike breakout from its Euro-centric schedule, the loss of a possible round in Malaysia certainly is a blow to the series in that regard, though there is some consolation in the fact that a round will be held in Russia, at the Moscow International Raceway. Check out the calendar after the jump.

World Superbike Going to Single-Bike per Rider Format?

07/15/2011 @ 2:44 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

World Superbike Going to Single Bike per Rider Format? Max Biaggi World Superbike Aprilia MMP 635x443

Reliable sources are perpetuating the rumor that World Superbike is considering moving to a single-bike rule for its riders, presumably meaning that a WSBK rider would only have a single racing motorcycle at each race and session at a World Superbike round. The rule would be an extension of the already existing provision in World Supersport racing, which has seen a surge of participants this past year, compared to World Superbike’s shrinking numbers (though WSBK still has more riders competing than MotoGP at this point).

The idea is that the new provision, presumably to come out for the 2012 season, would allow teams to cut costs by up to €300,000, or run the option of having larger or multiple teams, which in-turn would increase grid sizes and jobs for ride-less racers.

World Superbike Looking for 2013-2015 Tire Supplier

03/31/2011 @ 10:36 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

World Superbike Looking for 2013 2015 Tire Supplier SBK logo

There’s a growing rumor (if not fact) that Pirelli won’t be supplying the World Superbike Championship with tires after the 2012 season, and a piece of that puzzle has come forth today as Infront Motor Sports (IMS) has announced that it will be accepting bids from tire manufacturers to exclusively supply the World Superbike & World Supersport Championships, the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup, and the Superstock 600 European Championship for the 2013-2015 racing seasons.

WSBK Reduces Number of Riders for Superpole in 2011

12/18/2010 @ 2:34 pm, by Victoria Reid3 COMMENTS

WSBK Reduces Number of Riders for Superpole in 2011 Haga Miller Motorsports Park 2010 635x637

Tucked away in the Friday press release from the World Superbike Commission, along with other changes to the technical and sporting regulations, was the news that only sixteen bikes would be eligible to compete in Superpole qualifying.  In the 2010 season, the fastest 20 riders during the qualifying practices competed to move on to Superpole 2 and 3 to vie for the pole position for the Sunday races.

With the lower numbers of entries this past season, many if not sometimes all of the riders gained entry into the first Superpole session.  This coming, 2011, season, only the sixteen fastest riders will be in the first session of Superpole, with the slowest four getting knocked out of the running for Superpole 2 (allowing the fastest twelve to move onto Superpole 2).