WorldSBK Approves the Use of Winglets*

The World Superbike Championship released the latest decision from the SBK Commission today, which clarified a few rules for the 2018 season, most notably the new rev-limiter and parts cost rules, which have been discussed already at great length here on Asphalt & Rubber (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3). There was another interesting rule change of note though, which is likely to get over-looked by the racing community, and that is the World Superbike Championship permitting the use of winglets, although there is a catch. In its rules update, the SBK Commission decreed that teams and manufacturers may fit aerodynamic components (e.g. winglets) to their superbikes so long as the winglets are fitted to the homologated motorcycle.

Crunching the Numbers: Rea vs. MotoGP vs. WorldSBK

The start of December marks the beginning of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in the world of motorcycle racing. After the Jerez test in late November, it is now “Why Is Jonathan Rea Faster Than A MotoGP Bike” season. At Jerez, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10R WorldSBK machine – down 35+ bhp and up 10+ kg – to the fourth fastest overall time of the week, ahead of eleven MotoGP regulars (including two rookies), three MotoGP test riders and Alex Márquez, who the Marc VDS team were using to train up the new crew recruited to look after Tom Luthi’s side of the garage while the Swiss rider is still injured. How is this possible? And what does this mean? Are WorldSBK machines too close to MotoGP bikes?

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX Priced at $19,000 for the USA

Kawasaki’s newest supercharged motorcycle is also its most affordable supercharged motorcycle, with the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX coming to the USA with an MSRP of $19,000. Even the better-equipped 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE is an “affordable” $22,000, when compared to the more sport-focused H2 models. Featuring a 200hp version of Kawasaki’s supercharged, four-cylinder, 998cc engine, the Ninja H2 SX is a fully faired sport-tourer, with an emphasis on the sport side of the equation. The base model comes in any color you want, so long as it’s black, while the Ninja H2 SX SE comes in the traditional Team Green color scheme of Kawasaki.

Oh Yes, The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE Is USA Bound

Good news sport bike fans, Kawasaki USA in its infinite wisdom has decided to bring the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE to the United States for the 2018 model year. Debuted at this year’s EICMA show, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE takes the potent superbike and most notably adds Showa’s new semi-active suspension to the package. Other perks include the seven-spoke forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, found already on the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, as well as an up/down quickshifter. Like what you hear? Well brace yourself…If you want a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R SE in your garage, you are going to need to shell out $21,899 MSRP for it. That sticker price represents quite the premium over Team Green’s race homologation machine, the ZX-10RR, which goes for $18,899.

PJ Jacobsen Racing in WorldSBK for 2018

Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen will be stepping up to the big show for the 2018 season, with today’s announcement that the American will be riding with the TripleM Honda WSBK Team. Moving off of the World Supersport grid and into the World Superbike Championship, Jacobsen will be riding the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 with the satellite Honda team effort that TripleM has put together. “I’m very excited to be making my World Superbike debut with TripleM Honda WSBK Team,” said PJ. “It’s a great opportunity for me to be finally racing in this class and I want to thank the team and Honda for making this possible. Both the team and I will be rookies in the WorldSBK championship so there’ll surely be a lot to learn, but it’s a challenge that stimulates me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Yamaha Selling Shares in Yamaha Motor to Raise Money

The Yamaha Corporation announced today that it will be selling 8 million shares of its holdings in Yamaha Motor Co., a movement of shares that will see roughly 2.3% of the voting power in the powersports company changing hands. This deal is expected to close on December 4th, and the Yamaha Corporation says that it will be selling its position to various unnamed securities companies, presumably to then be sold on the open market. At the current market price for Yamaha Motor stock, this deal should be worth close to ¥26 billion, and ¥18 billion after tax expenses have been factored. The news means that while the Yamaha Corporation will remain the single largest shareholder in Yamaha Motor Co., its ownership position as a shareholder will drop from 12.22% to 9.93%, as a result of the divestiture.

Valentino Rossi’s Winter Test Helmet Gets Mexican Flair

It is another winter testing period for the MotoGP riders, and that means that Valentino Rossi has another special “Winter Test” AGV helmet design for us. This year, The Doctor takes his inspiration from Huichol bead art, after he visited the region on a recent vacation to Mexico. As such, Rossi’s winter test AGV Pista GP R helmet features a hand-painted bead design that plays on the winter motif, with the Italian’s usual affinity for symbols. “Huichol art immediately intrigued me, because it uses many of my symbols, like the sun and moon or the turtle,” explained Valentino Rossi. “We have tried to recreate the effect of the beads that the Mexicans use to bring color and shape to these objects, but to do so with a Valentino Rossi twist.”

Jonathan Rea Talks About New WorldSBK Rules

Three years of unparalleled success has seen Jonathan Rea notch up 39 victories, 70 podiums, and 3 WorldSBK titles. To put those numbers into context, only Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss, and Noriyuki Haga have won more races in their WorldSBK careers. It truly has been a historic run of form for Rea and Kawasaki. For WorldSBK though the achievements have been outweighed by the reaction of fans to these results. Feeling that significant changes were needed to ensure a more competitive balance for the field, WorldSBK has introduced a wide range of new regulations to curtail the Kawasaki dominance. The goal isn’t to stop Rea and Kawasaki winning but simply to allow other manufacturers to get on an even keel.

The “Smart” Approach to Writing the WorldSBK Rulebook

Scott Smart has been tasked with writing and rewriting the rule book for Superbikes around the planet. The FIM Superbike Technical Director has been instrumental in bringing about the recent regulation changes for WorldSBK, and speaking at the season ending Qatar round he explained the philosophy behind the changes. “There’s a lot of benefits to these changes, but the biggest factor is that we want to find a way to have more exciting racing in WorldSBK,” explained Smart. “With the new regulations each team on the grid has the chance to run the same specification as the factory teams or to develop their own parts. This gives a private team the chance to have a bike with development work already having been completed by simply buying the relevant parts for their bike.”

Ben Spies Returns to Motorcycle Racing…On Dirt Bikes

Ben Spies fans will be happy to hear that the Texan is returning to racing motorcycles, announcing the news while talking to Matthew Miles at Cycle World. However, the news might not be as expected, as Spies isn’t returning to the superbike paddock, but instead will compete in the AMA National Enduro series next season. As such, Spies will take part in several rounds on the Full Gas Sprint Enduro calendar, in the mid-level “Pro2” class; as well as an ISDE qualifier, with an eye on making the squad for Team USA. Certainly not the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship bid that was reported earlier, though Spies confirmed that he had been in talks with Ducati about racing a Panigale, and had also spun some laps on a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R at a track day in Texas.

Macau Grand Prix Cut Short by Tragic Fatality

11/18/2017 @ 3:56 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

The 51st running of the Macau Grand Prix got underway today under auspicious conditions, the race organizers finding a narrow window in the rain to let the motorcycles out on the road course.

That would prove to be a fateful move however, as the race would last only six of its twelve laps, with tragedy striking and red flags flying.

A crash in Fisherman’s Bend caused the race’s early conclusion, and in its aftermath we have learned that British rider Daniel Hegarty lost his life in the unfortunate incident.

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Ride in Peace, Barry Boone

09/12/2017 @ 11:30 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

It is with great regret that we report the passing of Barry Boone, the voice of American motorcycle racing for many fans. 

Boone’s legendary voice is deeply associated with American Flat Track and his “Talking Motorcycles with Barry Boone” radio show, and he was a longtime fan of motorcycles and motorcycle racing.

Boone passed away yesterday, at the age of 62-years-old. He is survived by the love of his life Colette, sister Sharon Rone, brother-in-law Jack Rone, and his legion of motorcycle fans. His presence and his voice will be deeply missed from motorcycling.

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Ángel Nieto, the thirteen-time (or “12+1”, as he preferred to call himself) world champion has died as a result of injuries sustained in a traffic accident.

He suffered head injuries after an accident with a quad bike in Ibiza last week, and was taken to hospital and placed in an artificial coma. Though there were initial signs of recovery, Nieto took a turn for the worse last night, and finally passed away on Thursday.

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Alan Bonner Has Died from Injuries at the IOMTT

06/07/2017 @ 12:46 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

With another fatality today at the 2017 Isle of Man TT, we regret to report that Alan Bonner, from County Meath in Ireland, died during today’s qualifying session for the Senior TT, in an incident at the 33rd Milestone.

The 33-year-old made his Isle of Man TT debut in 2014, and quickly found pace on the Mountain Course. As such the next year, he had his highest finish ever, with an impressive 15th place in the 2015 Senior TT.

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Again with a heavy heart, we are sad to report another fatality at the 2017 Isle of Man TT, as The Netherland’s Jochem van den Hoek died today, during the Superstock TT race.

According to the ACU, Jochem had an accident at the 11th Milestone, during the first lap of the race, where the 28-year-old was then treated at the scene.

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Davey Lambert Has Died from Injuries at the IOMTT

06/06/2017 @ 6:39 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We are sad to report that the 2017 Isle of Man TT has claimed its first fatality, as Davey Lambert of Gateshead, England passed away this evening, after sustaining injuries during the Superbike TT race on June 4th.

Lambert crashed near Greeba Castle, during the third lap of the Superbike TT, and was treated at the scene before being flown by helicopter to Noble’s Hospital on the Isle of Man. He was later transferred to Aintree Hospital in Liverpool, where he then passed away.

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Ride in Peace, Nicky Hayden

05/22/2017 @ 10:28 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Nicky Hayden today, the American motorcycle racer finally succumbing to the injuries he sustained on Wednesday, at 7:09 PM CEST.

The former-MotoGP Champion was struck by a car, while he was training on his bicycle near the Rimini coast. After the incident, Hayden was ultimately treated at the trauma center at the Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, where he later passed away.

While motorcycle fans around the world have been hoping for good news throughout this past weekend, and looking for signs that Nicky’s condition would improve, today Nicky’s race ended, with his family and friends at his side.

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Ride in Peace, Author Robert Pirsig

04/26/2017 @ 10:00 am, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

I first heard of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance shortly after I bought my first motorcycle, a Honda CBR600F2. I was stuck in the middle of Dunsmuir, California with a bad rectifier/regulator (a common trouble-spot on that model bike), and a passerby recommended the title.

I think they referred the book out of naiveté its content, but obviously the novel, despite its title, would do little to help my immediate problem with my Honda, though it was a good read about some general philosophic ideas, which I could chew-on after I got my CBR bumped-started and back on the road again.

Undoubtedly, you have likely heard of Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as well (whether stranded on the side of the road or not), as the book has a bit of a cult-following amongst both motorcyclists and the general public, and its sales figures are well into the millions of copies.

Passing away on Monday, April 24th 2017, after a period of failing health, Pirsig will be remembered by motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists alike, for his work as a modern philosopher. He was 88-years-old at the time of his passing.

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Ride in Peace, Motorsport Legend John Surtees

03/10/2017 @ 11:42 am, by Jensen Beeler9 COMMENTS

It’s with great sadness today that we report the passing of John Surtees, a legend in both two-wheeled and four-wheeled motorsport. 

Surtees is best known for winning three 350cc Championship titles (1958, 1959, and 1960), four 500cc Grand Prix Championship titles (1956, 1958, 1959, and 1960), as well as the 1964 Formula One World Championship title.

This makes Surtees the only man to win a World Championship in both two-wheeled and four-wheeled racing categories. He was also the first person to will the Senior TT race at the Isle of Man TT, three times in a row.

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MotoGP Retires #58 in Honor of Marco Simoncelli

09/08/2016 @ 2:50 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

marco-simoncelli-motogp-number-58-retired

At the San Marino GP today, MotoGP officially retired the use of #58, giving honor to Marco Simoncelli, who died almost five years ago while racing in the Malaysian GP at Sepang.

Of course, this weekend’s stop on the MotoGP Championship calendar actually takes place at the Misano World Circuit, which changed its official name to the the “Misano World Circuit – Marco Simoncelli” in order to honor the fallen racer.

This makes the San Marino GP a fitting venue for Simoncelli’s number to be retired, and of course the weekend’s events take place in front of a home crowd, with Simoncelli born just a few miles away on the coast, in Cattolica.

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