Making its third start from South America, the 33rd Dakar Rally officially kicks off on New Year’s Day tomorrow in Buneos Aires. Making a quick trip to Victoria, Argentina (174 mils as the crow flies), the 2011 Dakar Rally competitors will have to contest with what is being considered a more difficult and technical course than last year’s route. In total there are 445 competitors (180 motorcycles, 140 cars, 67 trucks, & 32 ATVs) entering the race, but history tells us a smaller number will finish the course.
KTM’s Cyril Despres is favored in the motorcycle category, after winning the 2010 rally, but he will have to contend with fellow KTM rider Marc Coma and Francisco Lopez Contardo, whose Aprilia has been extensively improved upon over last year’s debut model, and could be a real contender this year in the Dakar. Of course rally purists will still lament the fact the race isn’t taking place in Africa, but the Dakar is getting back to its roots a bit, and has limited the use of global positioning satellites. Photos and video after the jump.
This off-season would have been bumpy enough for Marco Melandri, moving from the Gresini Honda MotoGP team to the factory Yamaha WSBK squad, but he’s been suffering from a “big pain with no reason,” that forced him to go for a scan on December 17th, and then have surgery on his right shoulder. Originally, even the official WSBK site posted that it was a “false alarm,” as “a scan did not reveal anything.” However, the Italian underwent a successful surgery just before Christmas. It appears that Melandri will be ready for racing when the season begins in two months’ time.
According to the Yamaha Racing, “the Italian opted for a clean-up procedure in order to reduce risk of further aggravation…there was no damage to ligaments therefore a straightforward ‘tidying’ took place and a ‘staple’ attached – that will erode naturally over time – will add extra stability.” Melandri’s doctor, Giuseppe Porcellini, recently performed surgery on Valentino Rossi’s shoulder. Melandri was restless in the hospital after the surgery, as most would be, simply tweeting on Christmas Eve, “paìnfull [sic] night but in a very good mood.. Wanna go home! :-)”
Showing off its electric and hybrid chops at SEMA this year, we get news that Mission Motors has been working with OEMs to help integrate electrical components into their product offerings. One such example of this is a project Mission Motors undertook with Honda Automobiles, which saw a Honda CR-Z Hybrid upgraded with MissionEVT components, and then raced at the 25hrs of Thunderhill endurance event a few weeks ago.
Drawing from the same vein the as the BMW Films made in 2001 & 2002, the Bavarian brand has made some short videos that feature unique BMW owners doing what they do best with their German vehicles, and in the case of Tiffany Coates that means riding her BMW R80GS (named Thelma) just about everywhere humanly possible.
An accomplished adventure rider and a celebrity in the genre, Coates has hit five continents on her BMWs. While her narration gets a little advetorial at points, Coates’s travel book, experiences, and perspective, along with the imagery BMW shot for the video, easily make up for it with this rich short film. Check it out after jump, and let us know if you’ve gotten the itch to go exploring after hearing Tiffany’s story.
The launch of the 2011 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has been a rocky one for Team Green. First there was the new that the ZX-10R’s class leading power figures wouldn’t be making it to the American market, as the Japanese manufacturer was honoring new EPA noise standards, which necessitated the Kawasaki ZX-10R getting its wings clipped by 750RPM and approximately 20hp. With this sort of impediment soon to become a common occurrence in the North American markets, the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R is just the first of many bikes likely coming to the Land of the Free with less power than its European counterparts.
The next big blow for the ZX-10R occurred just a few weeks ago when Kawasaki put a worldwide technical hold on the model, and asked for units already sold in the United States to be returned to the manufacturer. Kawasaki was tight-lipped on the actual reason for the technical hold, but rumors that a piston problem was the cause quickly emerged. Now releasing more information about the technical hold, Kawasaki says that its engine issue was not in the pistons, but instead was due to an intake valve seating issue was the cause of the non-recall.
Pirelli (makers of the 2011 Pirelli Calendar) and the Italian arm of ad firm Y&R (the NY arm of Y&R did the Xerox/Ducati ad set) want you to know that smoking can be hazardous to your health. Playing off the Surgeon General warning labels found on cigarette packages, Pirelli’s new ads show a motorcycling protagonist full of gusto putting one of his Italian doughnuts to good use with a puff of smoke and a mighty burnout (we’re working on our ad copy hyperbole).
There’s some good play on words going on here, which Y&R has put to good use with motorcycling imagery. We especially like the line “smoking can cause circulation problems” as the photo focuses on the time-warped spinning tire, while the “protect chicks: don’t make them breathe your smoke” seems a bit more pedestrian and blunt. Good photography, a hot custom bike, clever ad work. Chalk up a win for Pirelli (more photos after the jump).
Triumph is recalling a number of 2010 Triumph Sprint ST and Spring GT motorcycles for a faulty dipstick. Apparently on just over 200 units of the sport-tourers, a dipstick with an incorrect length was installed, which would result in an inaccurate reading being taken from the oil level that could result in the motor running out of oil.
Since only bad things happen with an oil deprived motor, a recall is expected to start before the New Year. For affected owners, Triumph dealers will replace the oil plug/dipstick at the clutch cover free of charge. Concerned 2010 Triumph Sprint owners can contact Triumph at (678) 539-8782, and of course the NHTSA can always be reached at 1-888-327-4236 or safecar.gov.
The North American distributor for the Piaggio Group (PGA) has released pricing and availability info for the company’s 2011 range of motorcycles and scooters for the Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Vespa, and Piaggio brands. While most of the scooters are immediately available, many of the big bikes will come in the first half or middle of 2011. Noticeably absent from the pricing and availability sheet are the 2011 Aprilia Tuono V4 R & 2011 Aprilia RS4 125, but the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory SE ($22,499 MSRP/mid-2011) is listed along with the base model RSV4 R ($15,000/mid-2011). Check after the jump for a full breakdown of prices and availability times.
After winning the MotoGP Triple Crown: The Rider, Team, and Manufacturer Championships, the factory Yamaha team finds itself in a difficult position looking for a title sponsor for next year. After Valentino Rossi’s departure to Ducati Corse for the 2011 season, Fiat, the team’s sponsor from 2007 until recently, dropped the Yamaha squad after its loss of the Italian rider (Fiat had long been associated with Yamaha because of the company’s desire to woo Rossi into the Ferrari Formula 1 team…that and the Italian helps sell the Italian made cars).
Perhaps under-appreciating the value of having Rossi on board a Yamaha bike in 2011, the tuning fork brand has now been left scrambling for a marquis name to help foot the bills for the next season. Despite having the reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and Rookie of the Year Ben Spies, deals with Petronas, Telefonica, and AirAsia have failed to materialize, despite lengthy rumor, meaning Yamaha’s corporate Blue/White livery might be spotted in Qatar (something reserved usually for non-sponsored wild card riders).
Perhaps a bike that hasn’t gotten enough press after its debut at Intermot, the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600 managed to shed roughly 20 lbs from its supersport design, making Suzuki the 600cc class leader once again, at least on paper. Suzuki was the only Japanese manufacturer to update its Supersport line for the new year, and instead of a casual redesign (although the GSX-R 600 doesn’t stray far from its predecessor’s aesthetic), the Hamamatsu-based company made a number of technical changes that focused around massively lowering the bike’s sprung and un-sprung mass.
While the styling might remain a little vanilla, we sure do like that spec sheet coming from Suzuki. Tipping the scales at 413 lbs wet (shazzam!), the 2011 Suzuki GSX-R 600 makes the same 123hp at the crank as the previous model, but presumably with better components (note the Brembo monoblocs and Showa Big Piston forks). Continue past the jump to see Suzuki America’s Derek Schoeberle explain where Suzuki made improvements to the GSX-R 600.
No, we’re not encouraging you to step away from any planned New Years Eve wedding proposals, but the Nürburgring Nordschleife does apparently need your help. Known throughout the motorsports community simply as the ‘Ring, the Nürburgring Nordschleife track plays host not only to car and motorcycle enthusiasts, but also serves as a formidable test track used by many OEMs when developing new vehicles (recently the track has also been a place for manufacturers to lay bragging rights for quickest lap times in sports cars).
It seems however that the ‘Ring, despite its popularity with track enthusiasts, is not the profitable endeavour that the German government thought it would be. Four years ago plans began to be implemented that would see other attractions added to the Nürburgring venue, which have reportedly done nothing to help boost the profitability of the track, and now in May of this year the ‘Ring was turned over to the same pair of businessmen responsible for that transformation, with the goal of boosting the track’s revenue, and that’s where the controversy starts.