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October 2014

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Before I begin I would like to apologise to the readers of Asphalt & Rubber for my tardiness in bringing you the Aragon story. When I arrived home from Aragon I went straight on holiday to Australia.

I’m finally sitting down to write this from a bar in Gatwick Airport, as I wait for my flight back to the Isle of Man following the Malaysian race.

Apologies over, back to Aragon.

I’d been looking forward to the Aragon race for most of the year. The track looked great and I’d been able to get a room in a house rented by ace MotoGP photographer Andrew Wheeler. There were several other photographers and journalists staying there, so it had the makings of an excellent weekend.

The circuit at Aragon is out in the middle of nowhere. The closest and most convenient airport for me was Barcelona which was around two and half hour drive away.

Today is perhaps the day I have been looking forward to the most. Not that I don’t like a good MotoGP race, especially at a venue I’ve never been to before, but come on…a couple days on a tropical island? That’s tough to beat.

Our itinerary before we left the USA originally had us flying to Borneo these few days, but the aftermath of tropical storms there meant we would visit island of Langkawi instead.

While I had heard much talk of Borneo, Langkawi was an unknown to me. My worry was for naught though, as the once “cursed” tropical locale was just as decadent as we had been told — of course, staying at the five-star Danna Langkai resort helped in that regard as well.

One of the worst-kept secrets in the motorcycle industry, Mercedes-AMG has now officially acquired a 25% stake in MV Agusta S.p.A. The news also sees Mercedes-AMG and MV Agusta signing a long-term partnership agreement, as well as collaboration on future sales and marketing efforts.

Neither Mercedes-AMG, nor MV Agusta, are talking the price of the 25% investment, though rumors peg the cost of the deal around €30 million — a very good valuation compared to the €747 million Audi paid for Ducati Motor Holding just two years ago. Also as a part of the agreement, Mercedes-AMG will appoint one member to MV Agusta’s board of directors.

Earlier today, we showed you the first photo of the MV Agusta Stradale 800. Essentially an MV Agusta Rivale with touring bags and a windscreen, the technical specifications of the MV Agusta Stradale tell a slightly different story though.

The biggest different between the Rivale and the Stradale comes from the 798cc three-cylinder engine, which is down 10hp, and thus makes 115hp at 11,000 rpm. The power disadvantage seems to come from a lower rev limit — a simple but effective way to differentiate the Stradale from the Rivale to consumers.

Husqvarna has begun its teaser campaign for the three street bikes it will unveil at EICMA. We know that two of the machines will be concept bikes, while the third will be a 2015 production model. We also already know that the production bike will be a large-displacement single-cylinder machine, with premium components and electronics.

Releasing a video of the machine today, Husqvarna doesn’t tip its hand beyond the information we already knew…or does it? Clearly audible in the video is a street-going thumper, but the look and feel of the terrain, rider, and bike, suggests that Husqvarna could be set to release an ADV rider’s dream machine.

Our Bothan spies are hard at work, ahead of this year’s EICMA show, and thus we have another leaked photo for your viewing pleasure. Giving us our first glimpse at the rumored MV Agusta Stradale 800, we can see that Varese is borrowing heavily from Ducati’s playbook.

If the Rivale was MV Agusta’s response to the Ducati Hypermotard, then the Stradale is the company’s riff on the Ducati Hyperstrada, as our photo shows what appears to be a Rivale with bags and a windscreen attached.

Casey Stoner has made a temporary return to MotoGP, completing two days of testing for Honda at Motegi. Over the two days of testing, Stoner focused on the 2015 version of Honda’s RC213V, the Australian comparing the settings used by Repsol Honda’s current riders, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, to see how they work with the new bike.

Stoner also worked on preparing the 2015 further ahead of its debut at the Valencia test after the final race of the season. Finally, he also spent some time on the development versions of Michelin’s MotoGP tires, as the French manufacturer prepares to take over as spec-tire supplier from 2016 onwards. As is their custom with all testing, Honda did not release any lap times.

Three American racers made the trek to the Circuito San Martino Del Lago in Cremona, Italy earlier this year, representing the United States of America, for the first time, at the FIM Supermoto of Nations event. Racing for the Red, White, & Blue were Johnny Lewis, Monte Frank, and Gage McAllister, along with Team Manager Jay Klinger.

Team USA finished 15th overall in the event, with Gage McAllister grabbing one Top 10 finish (a 9th), while Team France won the competition outright, with two race wins to their name in the three races.

Putting together a short-ish video of the team’s journey to Italy and competition there, you can watch Team USA’s efforts at the Supermoto of Nations, after the jump. America is seeing a resurgence in supermoto racing, hopefully this won’t be the last time our country competes at the Supermoto of Nations.

The 2014 EICMA show officially starts on Tuesday, November 3rd, though Ducati typically holds a private event the Monday ahead of the show, likely in the hope to get a little extra space on the news cycle, and to help build buzz ahead of Tuesday’s opening day for press and trade. The event is usually open to VIP and press only, but that’s about to change this year.

Setting up a live stream of the pre-EICMA unveiling on YouTube, Ducatisti around the world will be able to see Claudio Domenicali introduce the all-new Ducati Multistrada, with its new Testastretta DVT engine, as well as the 1299 superbike. We can also expect some “bold new graphics” changes to several models, and Domenicali will reintroduce the Ducati Scrambler as well.

It’s a pretty good show the few times A&R has attended, and it’s interesting that we are just now seeing OEMs embrace streaming technology for unveils like this. Of course, it has the downside of making it difficult to un-invite rogue journalists at the last-minute…maybe that’s cause enough in the slow movement for change.

Watch the live steam after the jump, starting November 3rd at 5:15pm Central European Time.