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Jensen Beeler

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MotoGP is a special animal. Like how Formula 1 is for automobiles, MotoGP is supposed to embody what the cutting edge of technology can bring to the sport of motorcycling. The talent is the pinnacle of its field, and the bikes are rolling R&D platforms.

This also means of course that the costs are exuberant, and instead of an instant applicable payoffs, the value of racing instead comes down the road many years later as the technology trickles down to the production-level bikes.

This makes MotoGP unlike the racing other series, whereas in World Superbike for instance, teams are working with a bike that is actually sold en masse to the consumer, costs for product line development can be absorbed, and the fabled “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” marketing buzz phrase has some bearing on reality.

Because of the intangible returns on investments, and escalating environment of prototype racing, it is not surprising to see the semi-departure of Kawasaki for 2009. So how much money are teams really losing by racing at the top of the sport?

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Harley-Davidson () shares dropped 12% Monday as financial analysts grew bearish over motorcycle purchases in 2009. Sparking the plummet, Goldman Sachs downgraded Harley’s shares to sell, lowered its target price to $11, and cut its 2009 profit outlook by 50%. Goldman analyst Patrick Archambault said he expects Harley’s retail bike sales to fall by 30% this year, making it the worst year for new registrations since 1982.

Part of the reason for the downgrade is becauset Harley-Davidson CEO, James Ziemer, said last month that he plans to retire from his 40 years of service with Harley in 2009, and on Thursday last week, Sy Naqvi stepped down as interim president Harley’s finance unit.

Another concern has been Harley-Davidson’s financial services division. The division is expected to make less revenue in 2009 off of sales, lose more money on delinquent loans, and be stuck with loan obligations because of a frozen LBO and secondary loan markets.

Source: Visordown

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Not content to let KTM and Ducati play in the big displacement motard segment by themselves, Aprilia is bringing their Shiver based SMV 750 Dorsoduro motard state-side for 2009. The Dorsoduro’s 90°, 750cc, 8-valve, v-twin makes 92 hp (at 8,750 rpm) and 61 lb•ft of torque (at 4,500 rpm), and with a claimed dry weight of 409lbs, it would seem to be an ideal hooligan machine. Read more for the full details on the Dorsoduro with pictures.

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The International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) started MotoGP in 1949 with the idea to establish a premiere prototype racing series. In 1992, FIM transfered the commercial rights to Dorna Sports, who have since been the business end of the racing series. This however, does not mean that the FIM is content to standby idly while the economic brouhaha plays havoc with MotoGP’s championship status. Continue reading to see FIM President Vito Ippolito response, and outlook on the future of MotoGP.

 

Sport and Racing Motorcycle Photographs

Ben Spies will be racingon a factory Yamaha R1 in World Superbike for 2009. The young American has shown that he has more than it takes to race against the best in the AMA, and accordingly is testing his mettle against the best in the world, in World Superbike. Unlike other rides though, Ben does this move with a purpose set beyond the confines of showroom bike racing. He’s picked his move so he can move into the “right” MotoGP team in the future, opting for the bike and team that would best shoot him up the ladder into a competitive GP contract. Continue reading for more about the Ben’s future plans.

 

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UPDATE: It looks like Alex Debon could be the Spanish rider that Jorge Martinez could tap to be one of his MotoGP riders.

You would think that Kawasaki’s announcement to leave MotoGP put’s to rest whether or not they will be racing next year in MotoGP, but you’d be wrong….at least sort of wrong. There has been if someone else would come along and direct/finance a Kawi MotoGP effort, and many people have pointed that finger at Jorge “Aspar” Martinez. That rumor would appear to have gained new credence today with the latest comment from Dorna’s CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, continuing reading for more.

 

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Straight from the horses mouth, and about 5 days later than we expected…It’s the rumor everyone already knew was truth…at least they bothered releasing a press release. Kawasaki has officially announced their leaving of MotoGP for the 2009 season.

 

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced today that it has decided to suspend its factory MotoGP racing activities from 2009 season.

Amid quickly changing business environment, Kawasaki has been promptly taking countermeasures to cope with the situation. As the world economy is not likely to recover in a short period due to the major impact of the financial crisis, Kawasaki decided to suspend its MotoGP racing activities from 2009 season onward and reallocate management resources more efficiently.

Kawasaki will continue racing activities using mass-produced motorcycles as well as supporting general race-oriented customers.

Kawasaki would like to thank all the fans and all those who have forwarded us great help.

Source:

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While we have yet to hear an official announcement from Kawasaki about its 2009 season in MotoGP, and there looks to be a fair bit of dust still left to settle; as of now, this is what the 2009 MotoGP grid will look like without Marco Melandri and John Hopkings:

Repsol Honda – Dani Pedrosa
Repsol Honda – Andrea Dovizioso

San Carlo Honda Gresini – Toni Elias
San Carlo Honda Gresini – Alex de Angelis

LCR Honda – Randy de Puniet

Scot Racing Honda – Yuki Takahashani

Rizla Suzuki – Loris Cappirossi
Rizla Suzuki – Christopher Vermulean

Ducati Marlboro – Casey Stoner
Ducati Marlboro – Nicky Hayden

Alice Ducati – Mika Kallio
Alice Ducati – Niccolo Canepa

Onde 2000 Ducati – Sete Gibernau

Fiat Yamaha – Valentino Rossi
Fiat Yamaha – Jorge Lorenzo

Tech 3 Yamaha – Colin Edwards
Tech 3 Yamaha – James Toseland

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Avenues to ride in MotoGP for the 2009 season are becoming dead-ends for Marco Melandri. In case you haven’t read A&R the last few weeks, Kawasaki’s pull-out from MotoGP has sent the young Italian scrambling for a ride this coming season, with his latest stop being in the Honda camp.

Lucio Cecchinello, manager for LCR Honda, admits to having been approached by friends of Melandri to see if the team would be interested in sponsoring a second bike alongside Randy de Puniet.

Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.

Employing the classic “It’s not you, it’s me” line, the LCR boss issued the statement: “I was asked by the manager of Melandri to run in 2009, but this will not happen for the following reasons,” said Lucio. “First, we can not afford to include a second driver. The current economic situation does not allow us to consider an investor can pay Melandri, especially given his last season. ” 

“Secondly, even if I talked to Honda, I am almost certain they would be against the idea of providing a new motorcycle. This would HRC to new engines, to invest in new parts and another crew. We are in a period where Honda wants to save rather than spend even more money. Finally, it is too late to hire staff and new mechanics. There is therefore no chance to see Melandri join my team. ” 

There is still some speculation that a white knight might step in to take over the Factory Kawasaki effort, this possibility earned further credence today as Carmelo Ezpeleta from Dorna released the fact that Kawasaki has a signed contract to run in MotoGP until 2011. 

Ezpeleta stated that “Once they [Kawasaki] informed me of their desire to stop, I began negotiations with them, arguing the contract they had signed and I asked them to reconsider their best decision, or at worst of postponing…The possibility of two Kawasaki on the grid in 2009, in one form or another, can not be ruled out. They signed a contract and a contract can not be ignored in a day.”

Get the popcorn folks, its only going to get more interesting from here on out.

Source: 

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UPDATE: The cause of death was due to pulmonary edema according to the autopsy. The forensic report also said his body showed no signs of injury or dehydration, and he would have died between nightfall on Sunday and dawn on Monday. This is truly sad news.

It is unfortunate news that we report that the 30th running of the Dakar Rally has suffered its first fatality. 49 year old French rider Pascal Terry (Yamaha #192) died sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from a cause not yet determined.