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.

Rossi, Lorenzo, and the 2013 Yamaha YZR-M1

03/22/2013 @ 9:59 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Rossi, Lorenzo, and the 2013 Yamaha YZR M1 2013 Yamaha YZR M1 Jorge Lorenzo Valentino Rossi 14 635x446

The last of the factory MotoGP teams to unveil its 2013 livery (Ducati Corse, Pramac Ducati & Repsol Honda here), Yamaha Racing has finally officially debuted the 2013 Yamaha YZR-M1 race bike, along with the team livery for riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

Unlike his 2011 defense, Lorenzo will not rock the #1 plate, perhaps getting wind of the dreaded number’s propensity to kill its owner’s chance of a successful title defense. For Rossi fans, the return to Yamaha is surely a welcomed sight, with The Doctor’s neon yellow “46” working better with Yamaha’s blue and white paint scheme. Somethings just seem to go better together, right?

Yamaha YZR-M1: 2013 vs. 2006

02/13/2013 @ 4:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

Yamaha YZR M1: 2013 vs. 2006 2013 yamaha yzr m1 no fairings

It is hard to believe, but it has been eight years since Valentino Rossi raced a Yamaha in liter capacity in MotoGP. Without even getting into the 800cc era that started in 2007 and ended in 2011, it is safe to say that a lot has changed since Rossi’s 2006 Yamaha YZR-M1 and the still unofficially debuted 2013 Yamaha YZR-M1.

While we already have a pretty good idea what was under the fairings of Rossi’s 2006 M1, since Yamaha Racing made detailed high-resolution pictures of the machine publicly available, what lies beneath the fairings of MotoGP’s current crop of prototypes is a closely guarded secret.

That secret must not have been guarded closely enough though, because the eagle eyes at GPone have gotten a photo of the Jorge Lorenzo’s M1 in the buff, and the Pride of Iwata has some interesting secrets to share with us.

MotoGP: Valentino Rossi’s Sepang Livery, Just Add Monster

02/04/2013 @ 8:47 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Valentino Rossis Sepang Livery, Just Add Monster Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 Sepang MotoGP test livery 06

You can tell it is the off-season when the subject of what Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha YZR-M1 will look like is an instant buzzworthy item, and you know MotoGP fans have been pretty hard-up over the past few months when even the test livery creates a frothing at the mouth. Today is no different.

Allegedly tweeted by the bike itself, Valentino Rossi’s test livery for MotoGP’s first pre-season test at Sepang is already creating quite a stir on Twitter. There isn’t all that much different about the Sepang livery and the livery on the Yamaha M1 that Rossi tested last November in Valencia, except of course for the fact that Monster Energy has been added to the layout.

Photos: Rossi + Lorenzo + Yamaha = ???

01/15/2013 @ 2:09 am, by Jensen Beeler28 COMMENTS

Photos: Rossi + Lorenzo + Yamaha = ??? Valentino Rossi Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha M1 MotoGP 12

Valentino Rossi likes to refer to the Yamaha YZR-M1 race bike as “his” M1. Leaving Yamaha for Ducati, Rossi even wrote his M1 a “Dear John” goodbye letter, which many understood to be a message to former-teammate Jorge Lorenzo that the young Spaniard was riding on the coattails of the nine-time world champion. Burying the hatchet that once built a wall in the pit box, Rossi and Lorenzo are once again teammates, though the pecking order has changed to some degree within the factory Yamaha Racing team.

With Lorenzo the reigning World Champion, and Rossi coming off an abysmal two-year stint with Ducati Corse, for the first time in a long while, the Italian racer finds himself in the #2 seat. With some questioning whether the better days are behind him, there is even doubt coming from The Doctor’s own mouth about his ability. Sandbagging or true position, one can never be sure, but the issue is surely going to be one that is touched upon heavily in the beginning of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship.

With the winter ban nearly over, and riders returning to their racing duties, we won’t have long until we see bikes on the track testing. Until then, we have the marketing machines of the various factories for entertainment, and not to let Ducati steal the show with its 2013 Wrooom event, Yamaha has teased out some photos and a video of its 2013 team. Now, I am a huge fan of Gigi Soldano’s work, and I like to think I’m a pretty open-minded dude…but shit gets weird after the jump.

MotoGP: First Shots of Rossi Back on the Yamaha YZR-M1

11/13/2012 @ 1:48 am, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

MotoGP: First Shots of Rossi Back on the Yamaha YZR M1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha MotoGP 635x423

Here’s one for the Rossi fans, the first photo of Valentino Rossi on-board the 1,000cc Yamaha YZR-M1 at the Valencia test (snagged by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 mechanic Steve Blackburn).

Apparently, the weather is being less than co-operative in Spain, with sprinkles of rain being reported, but that didn’t stop The Doctor from getting on-board “his” bike.

After the jump, there are 17 photos of Rossi’s maiden voyage back on the Yamaha YZR-M1 — all courtesy of photographer extraordinaire, Scott Jones.

Yamaha Considering Leasing M1 Motors to MotoGP Teams

11/08/2012 @ 3:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler15 COMMENTS

Yamaha Considering Leasing M1 Motors to MotoGP Teams Yamaha YZR M1 635x423

The battle for the future of MotoGP continues to gain intrigue, as Yamaha is reportedly considering leasing to private teams the motor found on the Yamaha YZR-M1. The news is being reported by MCN, which heralds the event as the end to the CRT experiment, and while that last part seems a bit hyperbolic, Yamaha’s move could have a profound affect on the series if it comes to fruition.

Currently on proposal for the 2013 MotoGP Championship is a grid comprised of 12 prototype machines (four from each of the three remaining factories), with the rest of the grid comprised of CRT entries (production motors in prototype chassis). That landscape could change however in 2014, as HRC has tipped that it has a production-racer, based off the Honda RC213V in the works, which it will sell to teams for around €1 million.

Adding yet another dimension to the bike line-up, Yamaha is said to be considering leasing the M1 motor to private teams, who in turn could use the prototype-based engine design in their own chassis design, much in the same manner that is currently being done with the production-based motors.

Your Next Yamaha Might Be a Crossplane Triple

10/02/2012 @ 3:18 am, by Jensen Beeler38 COMMENTS

Your Next Yamaha Might Be a Crossplane Triple Yamaha three cylinder crossplane triple concept 05 635x423

Debuting a three-cylinder concept at the INTERMOT show in Cologne, Yamaha is teasing the hypothesis of a tuning-fork brand triple with a crossplane crankshaft.

A technology that was developed in MotoGP for Yamaha YZR-M1, and then handed down to the Yamaha YZF-R1 in 2009, the unique qualities of the crossplane inline-four cylinder motor has been a key component to Yamaha’s potent, yet ridable machines.

Taking that same idea, and then applying it to a three-cylinder engine, Yamaha hopes to create a new motor that will appeal to street riders.

MotoGP: Yamaha Racing Goes Blu for Misano & Aragon

09/13/2012 @ 12:39 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Yamaha Racing Goes Blu for Misano & Aragon Yamaha Racing YZR M1 Race Blue livery 02 635x364

Yamaha Racing has debuted its “Race-Blu” livery at Misano today. The work of Aldo Drudi (of Valentino Rossi helmet fame), the blue and matte grey paint scheme is the same special color schemes that will be available on the Yamaha YZF-R1, YZF-R6, and YZF-R125 bikes for 2013, seemingly everywhere except the United States.

Yamaha says the livery is a throw-back to its historic racing blue colors of the 1980’s. Factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will also wear special Race-Blu leathers for the races at Misano and Aragon. Will the special livery prove to be as lucky as the Red/White 50th Anniversary livery? Only time will tell.

XXX: Valentino Rossi’s 2006 Yamaha YZR-M1

08/20/2012 @ 8:15 am, by Jensen Beeler13 COMMENTS

XXX: Valentino Rossis 2006 Yamaha YZR M1 Valentino Rossi 2006 Yamaha YZR M1 hi res 10 635x476

For many MotoGP fans, Valentino Rossi’s move back to Yamaha is a welcomed escape from the career-ruining Ducati Desmosedici. The perception, of course, is that the 1,000cc Yamaha is not terribly different from the 800cc-era machine, and therefore Rossi’s return to the tuning-fork brand should mean an instant return to his success and his alien status alike.

When we have these thoughts, we forget that in 2009 Rossi struggled to keep teammate Jorge Lorenzo at bay on the same machine, and that in 2010, right before his leg injury, Rossi was behind Lorenzo in the Championship points (despite a wall being erected in the Yamaha garage). Add in two long years at Ducati Corse, the death of Marco Simoncelli, and a new-generation of GP racers who are just now discovering their full potential, and there is ample reason to believe why Rossi’s return to Yamaha in 2013 will not look like his first venture with the Japanese company, nine years ago.

I suspect the move to Yamaha will be a culture shock for the legion of Rossi’s fans, who during Rossi’s switch to Ducati thought The Doctor’s skills on two-wheels, both on and off the track, could shape the Italian machine into a more tolerable form. The reality of course is that motorcycles are not developed overnight, and for Rossi to be competitive in 2004, changes in Yamaha had to occur far earlier than the signing of the pen to Rossi’s contract.

2012 Yamaha YZR-M1 Breaks Cover at Jerez

03/22/2012 @ 1:32 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

2012 Yamaha YZR M1 Breaks Cover at Jerez 2012 Yamaha YZR M1 635x523

Light on sponsors, but heavy on style, the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1 broke cover today at the Jerez. The 1,000cc inline four-cylinder machine will catapult factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies, as well as satellite riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad, as they attempt to overturn the Honda supremacy of last season.

With more than 240hp at the crank, there can be little doubt that the new M1 will be blisteringly quick, and 220+ mph speed trap times are already being pondered for fast tracks like Mugello. Called the best bike in the paddock by Repsol Honda boss Shuhei Nakamoto, the tuning-fork brand seems set to give Casey Stoner and HRC a run for their money in their Championship defences. Photos and technical specifications after the jump.