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April 2011

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Jorge Lorenzo was the top dog today in Estoril, Portugal, as the Spaniard claimed the pole position for the start of tomorrow’s Portuguese GP. The top qualifying result is the fourth in a row for Lorenzo at Estoril, which according to Monopoly Rules means the Spanish GP rider can now build a hotel at the Iberian track.

Lorenzo’s result is undoubtedly impressive, but Italian Marco Simoncelli might be stealing some of the World Champion’s spotlight, as the sophomore MotoGP rider has ridden an impressive week thus far, and will start from the second grid spot on Sunday afternoon after being just a tenth of a second slower than Lorenzo.

Despite the pace of Simoncelli’s factory Honda, surprisingly the Repsol Honda crew was farther down the grid, with Pedrosa and Stoner taking third and fourth place spots respectively, while Andrea Dovizioso will start sixth, behind Ben Spies. The factory Yamaha Texan struggled earlier in the week, but was able to find a setting he liked on the mostly dry track, and qualify seven tenths of his teammate’s pace.







For the Ducati squad, Estoril has proven to be quagmire, as Ducati Corse has been unable to find a setup that gives Rossi and Hayden the feeling they need on the track. Despite their strong showing in the rain at Jerez, Ducati is hoping for a dry race tomorrow as they try and improve the Ducati Desmosedici GP11. Rossi will start 9th, while American Nicky Hayden wills start from the 13th position (behind both Hector Barbera and Karel Abraham). Check after the jump for the full qualifying results.







In the press release announcing Álvaro Bautista’s intent to race in the Portuguese GP, the heading describes the Spaniard as having “true grit” during today’s Free Practice sessions at Estoril. Now normally with MotoGP press releases, these headings are a bit of hyperbole, but considering just over a month ago Bautista’s femur, the largest bone in the human body, was in two pieces, we’re inclined to agree that the Spanish rider has shown remarkable determination in getting back onto the saddle of the Suzuki GSV-R.

Initial estimates pegged Bautista’s return to be at Le Mans for the French GP, but hard work at his physical therapy sessions, and an obscene amount of time in a hyperbaric chamber have accelerated Bautista’s healing process. With today’s work in the Rizla Suzuki garage showing that he has the ability to ride on his leg just a mere 42 days after he broke it, the young GP rider has earned a lot of street cred in the MotoGP paddock.







Here’s a type of recall that we’ll begin to see more of in the coming years, Ducati North America is recalling 1,051 Diavel and Multistrada 1200 motorcycles because of a faulty software issue. A certain version of the hands free software package may cause the electronic steering lock to fail to disable during the “key on” process.

The result is that a rider would be unable to move their motorcycle, at least not beyond a small radial path. In the eyes of the NHTSA though, this could mean that a rider could start the motorcycle and attempt to ride off, and then realize they lack the ability to steer (read: not good). While the safety issue here seems fairly benign, the idea that one couldn’t get their bike moving because a 0 should be a 1 would be fairly frustrating to us if we were owners of either machine, hence the recall.







Development of the Horex VR6 street bike continues at the German company, with this latest teaser video hitting YouTube (we suspect it will put a sizable dent in the Royal Wedding viewership, at least it did for us). Using a time-lapse video technique, we see the Horex engineers assembling one of their Horex VR6 prototype motorcycles in just 46 seconds (less if you don’t want to count the end branding).

As the name implies, Horex is using a 1218cc VR6 motor, which offsets and staggers the six cylinders with a 15º “V” arrangement that allows for a more compact design across the bike’s width. Supercharged, the Horex VR6 will make nearly 200hp, while weighing 526 lbs, which should excite many road-going two-wheel fans. Check the video out after the jump.







According to our friends at Ducati News Today, Ducati Australia has announced that it will begin offering a Ducati Monster 659, a Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS) compliant motorcycle for learning motorcyclists. Something we reported on back in March, the Monster 659 is a repurposed Monster 696 that complies with Australia’s laws and restrictions regarding motorcycle purchases by new riders.

Though with this news the Monster 659 has been official announced, it still is not clear how Ducati arrived to its 659cc displacement for the Ducati Monster 659. Logic would dictate either a reduced bore size, or a shortened stroke, with the latter being our best guess, but Ducati Australia so far has been mums the word about it.







Good news for Álvaro Bautista fans today, as the Spanish rider has been medically cleared to participate in the upcoming Portuguese GP by MotoGP’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sarmento. After giving Bautista a thorough examination, Dr. Sarmento deemed that the Spaniard was fit enough to ride a motorcycle, which will occur during tomorrow’s first Free Practice.

Rizla Suzuki and Bautista will asses his riding fitness from there, and decide whether the Álvaro will compete in the Portuguese GP, or if Suzuki test rider Nobuatsu Aoki will take over the reigns for the race weekend. If he races on Sunday, Bautista will have made his recovery from a broken left femur in a remarkable 42 days.







We thought we had the good life here at Asphalt & Rubber, blogging in our pajamas until noon, no rent, and mom making us an endless supply of cookies. This was of course before we got an email from KTM Factory stunt rider Rok Bagoroš. The young Slovenian probably has the dream job of more than few motorcyclists. Traveling the world, riding bikes all day, and teaching Spanish cops how to wheelie are just some of the perks of his job.

Now that Bagoroš has a gig with the KTM squad, he’s taken possession of the company’s latest motorcycle, the KTM 125 Duke. Tasked with making the entry-level Duke appeal to its target market, KTM has marketed the 125 Duke mostly as a hooligan machine for teenage boys, which is like trying to sell a magnifying glass to a 14 year-old sitting on an ant hill. Enter Bagoroš with his bag of tricks, and the list of things we’d probably break trying to replicate them (getting old is tough).

Anyways…check the videos after the jump, and keep counting the days until KTM releases are larger displacement model of the new Duke to the American market.













It would seem the motorcycle industry has found the bottom of the recession, with first quarter sales in 2011 showing 7% growth over 2010’s numbers here in the United States. Ducati has already posted strong numbers for Q1 2011, and BMW is posting its best quarterly results ever. Even Harley-Davidson is showing some signs of life with a 3.5% sales increase so far this year. However the good news does not extend to Japanese behemoth Honda Motor Co.’s motorcycle division.

Selling 300,000 more units in the past three months than it did in Q1 of 2010, Honda’s 12.7% sales growth was not enough add more to the top line (and bottom line) compared to last year’s financial figures. Seeing a 3% drop in revenue, one can surmise that while Honda is selling more units in 2011, those units sales are coming from cheaper models, presumably scooters, and not from pricier full size models.







Where does Crescent Suzuki’s Jon Kirkham go when he needs custom racing leathers made for his British Superbike Championship bid? Why Alpinestars of course. Testing in Spain before the 2011 season began, Kirkham stopped by the Alpinestars HQ in Italy to get fitted for his new racing suit, and the Crescent Suzuki team brought along its cameras to share the experience with everyone else.

You don’t have to follow the BSB series to appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a custom leather suit, and getting an inside look at one of the top brand’s operation is certainly enlightening. The process is more involved than just taking a stock suit and putting logos on it. Instead each piece is custom cut to the rider’s measurements, and hand sewn to make a completely unique garment for Kirkham.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that if he bins it during practice or a race, a new custom suit can be made from scratch in just eight hours. Check the video out after the jump.













The Pacific Northwest is about to get a new track day venue, as the Ridge Motorsports Park has won its special zoning permit, and begun construction in Mason County, Washington. Ridge Motorsports Park will feature a 2.5 mile road course that incorporates the topography of the area to create a venue with undulating elevation, which should make for a fun and challenging track for car and motorcycle enthusiasts alike.

Judging from the track layout, there appears to be three different configurations for the park’s road course, with the full course comprising of 18 turns with the optional front chicane adding a 19th. Complimenting the 2.5 mile road course is a separate ¼ drag strip, which should appeal to those whole like to take their motorsports in a single vector only.







MCN is running a photo today that a Austrian KTM enthusiast supposedly snapped at at gas station just down the street from the Austrian company’s Mattighofen headquarters. Coming across what looks to be an early-prototype of the 2012 KTM 690 Duke, we have at least a rough idea of what KTM will likely unveil at EICMA later this year.

Expected to be a few horsepower up on its predecessor, the ~70hp 2012 KTM 690 Duke has always been an urban wheelie machine that KTM would be hard-pressed to improve upon. The most notable changes so far appear to be a new headlight, a more pronounced pillion, and standard exhaust placement, along with a revised chassis and motor.