Sometimes, I wonder why brands debut their machines at the EICMA, or any trade show for that matter, but especially the one in Milan.
Asphalt & Rubber published close to 50 new bike stories from Milan, and we still have a few more minor announcements to get out the door, so imagine for a minute that you are the marketing manager for a brand which is trying to stand out in that crowd.
This EICMA marked the first year where we really saw some brands abandoning the rat race of EICMA, choosing to release their new models ahead of the show, in order to generate some buzz, and dominate the headlines for a day or two.
And, no one executed this strategy better than Aprilia.
True to rumor, the bike is basically powered by half of an Tuono 1100 / RSV4 1100 engine, with the forward bank of cylinders making the engine platform. Building from there, Aprilia has begun to play with an active aerodynamic system as well, taking the current trend in the two-wheeled space to the next level.
Called Aprilia Active Aerodynamics (A3), the name pretty much tells the story. As such, the Aprilia RS 660 concept explores using aerodynamic forces in new ways, which sees the machine capable of changing its front aerodynamic profile, as well as how much downforce it creates.
It’s here. The next generation of four-cylinder sport bike from MV Agusta just broke cover at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. As such, say hello to the 2019 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Serie Oro. This is likely as close as you will ever get to one, as only 300 will be built.
An evolution of Massimo Tamburini’s original Brutale design, the MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Serie Oro does not disappoint, especially with its 205hp (152 kW) peak power figure – the highest performance figure of any production streetfighter.
With the special race kit installed, power on the MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Serie Oro increases to 209hp (156 kW), with the 4-1-4 titanium exhaust from SC Project highlighting the change in peak horsepower.
The big reveal at Ducati’s live stream event for EICMA 2018 is surely the Italian brand’s new homologation racing machine, the Ducati Panigale V4 R. A 998cc version of its potent street bike, the 2019 Ducati Panigale V4 R takes full advantage of the homologation rules for the WorldSBK Championship.
As such, the Ducati Panigale V4 R will surely hit the top limit of the World Superbike pricing cap, which is €40,000. For that price though, you get the pinnacle of Ducati’s superbike technology, including the company’s first use of winglets on a street-legal machine, which come straight from Ducati Corse’s MotoGP program.
Of course, the real show-stopper for the 2019 Ducati Panigale V4 R are the tech specs: 217hp (162 kW), with 83 lbs•ft (112 Nm) of peak torque, wrapped up in a 425 lbs (193kg) package, when fully fueled at the curb.
The EICMA festivities kick off tomorrow, with Ducati preempting the Milan trade show with its own media unveil event. The new model debuts will be live-streamed, of course, and we expect to see a bevy of new models from the Bologna brand.
Before we uncover even one bike though, Ducati is sending a clear message of what we can expect to see, teasing a winglet on its live stream promo photo. This aerodynamic aid surely belongs to the Ducati Panigale V4 R, which is expected to be the Italian brand’s big reveal for EICMA.
The dawn of aerodynamics is upon the motorcycle industry, because aftermarket winglets for superbikes are now a thing.
If we are surprised about anything, it is that it has taken this long for someone to come up with a winglet for modern superbikes.
Ever since the first MotoGP bike rolled out of the pit lane garage sporting aerodynamic aids, the clock has been ticking until someone made them for the general public. That time is today. That someone is the good folks at Puig.
What is the value of a MotoGP test? About a morning, if Aragon is anything to go by. At the end of FP1, before any real rubber had built up on the track, four Ducatis topped the timesheets.
When I asked Davide Tardozzi whether he was happy with the Ducatis looking so strong so early, he replied that this was just the benefit of testing. Watch and see what Marc Márquez does in the afternoon, Tardozzi said.
Sure enough, by FP2, Márquez had caught up and then passed the Ducatis. The Repsol Honda rider ended the day on top of the timesheets, a tenth ahead of the factory Ducati of Jorge Lorenzo, and half a second quicker than Andrea Dovizioso.
Cal Crutchlow was just behind Dovizioso on the LCR Honda, while Andrea Iannone was a fraction over a half a second behind Márquez. The advantage was already gone.
For Yamaha, there wasn’t any advantage at all. The Movistar Yamaha team had come to the track and found some gains, Maverick Viñales in particular taking confidence from the test, which he carried into the Misano weekend. That lasted all the way until Sunday, when the grip disappeared in the heat, and the Yamahas slid down the order.
Friday at Aragon was more of the same: competitive in the morning, when there was some grip, but nowhere in the afternoon, when the grip went. Rossi and Viñales made it through to Q2 by the skin of their teeth, though with no illusions of a podium, or more. Yamaha are in deep trouble, with no end to their misery in sight, but more on that later.
When the MotoGP rules moved to ban winglets in the premier class, it was clear that this cut deeper at Ducati than any other brand, and that this simply wasn’t just a loophole closed technical regulation. The Italian motorcycle manufacturer had invested heavily in aerodynamic aids on motorcycles, with an eye on bringing the technology to its production machines.
This led us here at Asphalt & Rubber to speculate for over a year now about the addition of winglets to Borgo Panigale’s upcoming homologation special, the Ducati Panigale V4 R.
Fueling the fire has been the World Superbike Championship’s allowance for winglets, so long as they come on the homologation bike, all but sealing the deal that we would see manufacturers following suit. As such, we have already seen Aprilia dabble in this arena, and now it seems Ducati is about to show its hand.
You would think that after a tough weekend of racing in punishing conditions, the riders would find it very hard to spend eight hours on a MotoGP bike, pushing as close to race pace as possible, testing new parts and setup.
Not according to Andrea Dovizioso. “No, for me it’s very easy, and it’s the easiest way to do that. If there is a break, it’s worse,” he told us at the end of Monday’s test at Brno.
There was a pretty full cast of MotoGP characters present, with one or two notable exceptions. The Reale Avintia and Angel Nieto Team Ducati teams were both absent, because they had nothing to test except setup, and testing is expensive.
Pol Espargaro was in the hospital waiting for scans on his broken collarbone and his back, which confirmed that luckily only his collarbone was fractured, and it won’t need to be plated (though he will definitely miss KTM’s home race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria).
HRC test rider Stefan Bradl was also absent, after stretching ligaments in his right shoulder in a crash he caused on the first lap. A crash in which he also took out Maverick Viñales, who also suffered a minor shoulder injury, and decided not to test.
It is hot at Brno. It was hot at Assen, it was hot at the Sachsenring, and it is positively scorching at Brno. Air temperatures are at a relatively bearable 34°C, but the asphalt tentatively broke the 50°C during FP2.
That is officially what is known colloquially as a scorcher, testing riders, teams, and above all, tires on the first day of practice at Brno. Where last year, the riders concentrated on the soft and the medium Michelins, on Friday, the MotoGP riders spent their time assessing the medium and the hard.
The downside of forcing Michelin to choose tires for the entire season back in February is that sometimes, their crystal ball fails them, and the weather deviates wildly from what might reasonably be expected. The heatwave which has Europe in a vice-like grip is just such a case.
There are upsides to the heat, though they are perhaps unexpected. There were just four fallers at Brno on Friday across all three classes, less than half the number from last year, a third of the number in 2016, and a massive five and a half times fewer than the 22 crashers in 2015. It’s hot and dry, so the tires will definitely grip.
Heads up GP fans, as the MotoGP Championship is set to close two crucial loopholes in its rulebook for the 2019 season, which the Grand Prix Commission says in its press release are needed in order to keep the sport within the spirit of the rules.
The first loophole blandly affects the spec-ECU and its CAN protocol and connection, which is fairly innocuous until you read between the lines of it, while the second concerns the regulation of aerodynamic bodywork, which should be more obvious to regular MotoGP fans.