It is by pure happenstance that the featured story at the top of the Asphalt & Rubber homepage is about the new Ducati Hypermotard, which also coincides with today’s story that highlights more info about the 2019 model. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.
With that said, more information about the new Ducati Hypermotard has leaked, though it will depend on who you ask what those specifics are when it comes to this new machine. This is because we have conflicting reports from the British site BikeSocial and Italy’s GPone.
Both sites have proven themselves to be reliable in the past, which makes it difficult to decipher their differing opinions on the new power and weight figures of the Ducati Hypermotard. So, let’s dive into what we know, and what we don’t know.
Honda doesn’t want you to see these photos. I am pretty sure that there is a dark room somewhere on the Suzuka Circuit facility, possibly guarded by Yakuza henchmen, where they are keeping Steve captive for his misdeeds in bringing you the detailed photos we are about to show you.
This is how seriously HRC is taking this year’s Suzuka 8-Hours.
“Win at all costs” is the mantra being used by the Red Bull Honda team, which will field PJ Jacobsen, Takaaki Nakagami, and Takumi Takahashi at this year’s edition of the race. Their goal is simple: to restore honor to the company, and win the most prestigious race on the Japanese calendar.
To do this, Honda has built a special machine. A one-off superbike, this Honda CBR1000RR SP2 was designed to race at only one race track, for only one race, for only three riders. This Honda represents everything that HRC knows about making an endurance racing machine.
As you can imagine then, while this story starts with a bit of hyperbole, it isn’t far from reality.
The first European round of the WorldSBK season always brings excitement.
With trucks and hospitality units back on site, the paddock starts to feel more familiar; and with the opening round of the Supersport 300 and STK1000 series, there’s certainly a lot more track action.
The action on track so far in 2018 has seen the series receive a much-needed shot in the arm, and the new regulations have certainly helped to produce more competitive racing.
What you are looking at here is the bike that Honda hopes will win the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race this year. It is called the Honda CBR1000RRW.
It is not all that different from the WorldSBK-spec model, the one that Leon Camier and Jake Gange are competing with currently (and that PJ Jacobsen is helping develop), save for some interesting changes.
For starters, the Honda CBR1000RRW dumps its Cosworth boxes, and instead runs the Magneti Marelli electronics package that Jacobsen is using in WorldSBK.
Also, there are some obvious bodywork changes, namely where the exposed front spars of the frame would be, which are now covered by a silver painted panel.
Then of course, there are the mechanical changes for endurance duty, like quick-change wheel pieces and functional lights. Also note the Nissin brakes,
Showa Öhlins suspension, and Bridgestone tires (the FIM EWC is the last major series where there is competition also amongst the tire brands).
Before CBR1000RRW can race at Suzuka though, Honda will campaign the machine in the All Japan Superbike Championship, with Takumi Takahashi at the helm.
Takahashi-san will race at Suzuka as well, with two other teammates, who are still to be named, and likely will come from Honda’s MotoGP or WorldSBK racing efforts.
So far, Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Luthi have been tipped as being asked by Honda, but we are sure that Big Red sent out more feelers to other riders.
With the holiday season receding into the rear view mirror, that means that we are getting closer to seeing bikes on tracks.
Testing starts this week for both the MotoGP and WorldSBK paddocks, and before testing, the Movistar Yamaha team will present their 2018 livery later on this week as well.
The action starts on Tuesday in Jerez, where virtually the entire WorldSBK paddock is gathered for a two-day test.
The Andalusian track will see the first real test of the 2018 WorldSBK machines, with the teams all having had the winter break to develop their bikes under the new technical regulations – new rev limits, and better access to cheaper parts.
All eyes will once again be on triple and reigning WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea, the man who dominated at Jerez in November.
Remember the Husqvarna TR650 Terra and the Husqvarna TR650 Strada? The ill-fated dual-sport models, along with the Husqvarna Nuda 900, came out just before Husqvarna was sold by BMW Motorrad to KTM’s Stefan Pierer.
In the USA, those models are now the responsibility of KTM North America, and as such Team Orange is recalling 1,015 units of the Terra/Strada duo.
The recall centers around bikes built between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013, which stall for an reasons that are still being determined.
May you live in interesting times, runs an apocryphal Chinese curse. The first Grand Prix of 2016 certainly provided us with plenty of events which might be termed interesting, in both the common sense of the word and the apocryphal curse.
The three races at Qatar were thrilling, tense, intriguing, and mind-bogglingly bizarre.
It is hard to know where to start. The first race of the day proved to be the most conventional, Moto3 serving up its usual treat.
A very strong group of eight riders, including all of the championship favorites bar Fabio Quartararo, battled all race long for victory, Niccolo Antonelli finally coming out on top by just 0.007 seconds, beating Brad Binder into second.
The final day of testing at Valencia was a repeat of the first day: a lot of crashes on the Michelin tires, the factory Hondas, Yamahas, and Ducatis working on the brand new spec-electronics, the satellite bikes, and the Suzukis working on their own 2015 electronics.
For the Suzukis, that was not such a problem. The new electronics were likely to be an improvement on their own electronics, both Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro said, so missing out now was not such a problem.
Suzuki have another test planned at Sepang at the end November, at which they plan to switch the 2016 unified software. With two days of Michelin testing under the belt, testing the spec-software should be easier.
The move to a standard electronics package, both hardware and software, had raised the hopes of fans, teams and organizers that a more level playing field could be established, and costs cut.
The ideal sketched by Dorna and IRTA when the plan first came out has proven to be impossible to achieve. The manufacturers have resisted calls for a completely spec hardware and software package, and so a compromise has been reached.
The ECU hardware and software will be built, updated and managed by official electronics supplier to MotoGP, Magneti Marelli. Factories will be free to choose their own sensors, but those sensors will have to be homologated, and made available to any other manufacturer which wishes to use it at a reasonable price.
Not quite all of the sensors, however. In response to a request by the factories, the inertial platform will remain what is called a free device, i.e. any manufacturer can choose to use whichever inertial platform they like, without first submitting it for a approval to Dorna, or making it available to their rivals at a price.
2016 heralds a new era for MotoGP. Two major changes take place to the technical regulations: Michelin replaces Bridgestone as the official tire supplier (for more background on that, see the interview we did at Brno with Michelin boss Piero Taramasso), and everyone will be forced to switch to the spec electronics package, managed by Dorna and developed by Magneti Marelli.
Much confusion surrounds the introduction of spec electronics. Firstly, because there are so very few people who actually understand the role of electronics in motorcycle racing, it being a dark and mysterious art for fans, media, even riders.
Secondly, because the adoption of spec electronics has been a process of constant negotiation between manufacturers, Dorna and Magneti Marelli, as they try to reach a compromise which is acceptable to all parties.
That has resulted in the rules being changed a number of times, with such changes not always being communicated directly or clearly to outside parties.
So where do we stand now, and what is the process? I spoke to Corrado Cecchinelli, Dorna’s head of technology for MotoGP, on progress with the electronics, and especially the spec software package, ahead of the 2016 season.