Despite what you read elsewhere, the 2019 Honda CBR600RR remains unchanged for the American market. But will happen next year?
More doom and gloom for the motorcycle industry, as Ducati Motor Holdings sales are slumping for the 2018 model year. Selling 32,250 motorcycles so far this year, the Italian brand is short 7.4% the volume it sold this time last year. To translate unit sales into fiat currency, the 32,250 motorcycles sold equals €448 million in revenue going into Audi’s coffers. Of note, Ducati’s revenue contribution to Audi AG accounts for 1.4% of the automaker’s total revenue. For the second quarter of this year, Ducati sales were down 8.9% compared to Q2 2017. This means that 20,319 Ducati motorcycles were sold in Q2 2018, compared to the 22,300 sold in Q2 2017. All segments for Ducati are down, except for its “Sport” category (SuperSport and Superbike models), which is up 29%.
The second-quarter sales results from OEMs continue to roll in, and another brand is showing a decline, this time it is BMW Motorrad. Usually one of the stronger brands, in terms of yearly and quarterly growth, the Germans are reporting a 3.1% sales decline for Q2 2018.
In total, BMW Motorrad sold 51,117 units worldwide, compared to the 52,753 units it sold during the same time period last year. In terms of money, this sales drop means a corresponding 5.8% decline in revenue (€658 million) and a 6..8% decline in profits before tax (€174 million).
This is also translating into a 1.6% sales decline (by unit volume) for the first half of the year, with only 86,975 motorcycles and scooters sold to customers. This has resulted in a 10.1% revenue drop (€1,182 million), and a profit decrease of 23.7% (€196 million).
Triumph Motorcycles America has experienced a shakeup at its top management level, as Matthew Sheahan is out as Chief Operating Officer of the North American subsidiary.
The official line from Triumph is that Matthew Sheahan quit his post, though sources within the company tell Asphalt & Rubber that the American COO was fired from his role with the company.
The Yamaha NIKEN is trying to make a three-wheeled revolution, and it is coming to the United States starting in September. As such, we finally have pricing information on the NIKEN, and the American MSRP is set at a stout $15,999.
For those who don’t want to do the math, this price tag represents a $7,000 markup over the Yamaha MT-09, which the NIKEN is loosely based off of, from the headstock back.
Yamaha USA will be doing a special “online reservation system” only sort of deal when it comes to selling the NIKEN here, which means that all bikes will have to be ordered through your local Yamaha dealership before they are shipped.
Yamaha faithful should recognize that online ordering scheme is the same system that Yamaha USA used for the VMAX power cruiser and YZF-R1M superbike.
I am just now getting to the photos I took during the WorldSBK round at Laguna Seca, so apologies for the delay. As such, I have compiled the entire weekend’s shots into a single gallery, rather than breaking them out by day.
The order isn’t chronological then, but instead works its way around a lap of the track. The gallery starts in pit lane, with bikes and riders getting ready to take to the circuit. Next follows the pageantry of the starting grid, as my colleague Andrew Wheeler would call it.
A few shots from Turn 1 (the scariest turn in all of motorcycling, if you ask me), Turn 2 (the double-apex known better as the Andretti Hairpin), and Turn 3 (one of my favorite turns, as a rider) to get things started.
I pick the WSBK riders up again at the top of the hill at Turn 7. This vantage point always provides some good heavy braking shots, with riders often lifting the rear-wheel off the ground as the head into The Corkscrew – though, I didn’t seem to get that shot this year.
Taking a number of vantage points to this iconic turn, I shot the Corkscrew from both the inside and outside. The inside shots are the ones that are more famous, but my favorite photos from Laguna Seca always come from the outside, where on a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean in the background.
Coming down The Corkscrew I got a sequence of PJ Jacobsen finding the wrong line through the turn, with the marshals facing a very difficult bike recovery situation, which included fluid on the course.
Following the line through The Corkscrew, riders sweep wide into Rainy Curve (Turn 9), before tightening the line at the apex. The Corkscrew isn’t that technical of a turn to ride, beyond the fact that if you get it really wrong, you will lose all your drive down the hill and thru T9.
One of the few right-handers, Turn 10, and then the bus stop that is Turn 11, and the racers are back on the front straight. This is where I caught them again, power-wheelieing out of T11 and accelerating in front of the grandstand.
If you do this 20 or so times faster than anyone else, you find yourself in parc fermé with bubbly in your hands. This year the crowd got a taste of the prosecco as well, courtesy of Jonathan Rea.
Enjoy the shots, I left them in super-high resolution form in case you need a new desktop background. Note, there are more photos in the thumbnail gallery, if you want to click through those as well.
With Jonathan Rea’s future firmly set at the Kawasaki Racing Team, the focus this past weekend at Laguna Seca was on the future of his teammate, Tom Sykes. The Yorkshire man had spared few words in the media for his team and teammate in the days ahead of the California round, and he certainly wasn’t holding too much back once he was at Laguna Seca. You could almost smell the smoke emanating from Sykes, a result of the bridge that was being burned behind him. Sykes is 99.9% not riding with Kawasaki for the 2019 World Superbike Championship season, and he finds himself as one of the top picks in the paddock in the rider market. Chaz Davies is another top rider who is highly sought after in the paddock, and he is likely to remain at Ducati.
The American Frontier was about finding a way to survive. To do this, people from all over the world had to work together and find a way to coexist on the open plains and in the mountains. They did this because they knew the rewards could be massive.
Unimaginable wealth was underneath the rivers and mountains of the West Coast, and everyone believed they would find it.
Every racer in the world also believes that their trophies and points are at their fingertips once they have the tools at their disposal. Finding a way to work with a group of people from all over the world, and making them believe in you, is crucial.
The American Dream was founded on the ideal that anything was possible, and Racer’s Dream is based on the belief that you’re the best in the world and any issues you’re having are just a temporary delay of the inevitable.
At Laguna Seca, we had proof once again that the Racer’s Dream is real.
The “Race to the Clouds” consists of 156 turns, 12.42 miles of tarmac, and a summit for 14,110 feet. It is no small undertaking. To prove that simple point, one only needs to watch the on-board footage from Pikes Peak racers.
The Pikes Peak race course proved challenging for all of the competitors involved, and you can see from the on-board videos that Carlin has more than his fair share of close calls where he loses traction – especially in the top half of the course.
It’s always good to come home. That’s how I feel every time I return to Laguna Seca.
Driving off of Boundary Road, and onto the perimeter of the track, then cresting the big downhill that descends behind Turn 2, towards the green parking area, I always get a big smile knowing that a great weekend of racing is about to begin.
This weekend was no different, with bright, sunny skies, a good crowd, and lots of great racing in both the World Superbike and the MotoAmerica series.
We have already reported on the European Union’s 25% tariff increase (6% to 31%) on American-made motorcycles, and how those import taxes are going to affect in particular Harley-Davidson. The short version: not well. Seeing that writing on the wall, Harley-Davidson has responded to Europe’s retaliatory tariffs, though it is perhaps not the response that the American government was hoping for when it began taxing aluminum and steel from European Union member states. As such, Harley-Davidson plans to shift its production for motorcycles destined to the European market from its factories in the United States to it facilities abroad.