Isle of Man TT 2017 Preview

May 31, 2017 admin 0

Despite a rainy, chilly practice week, where, as of this writing, there has been no practice but copious ale consumption, the Isle of Man is starting to fill up with thousands of visitors and motorcycles here for the 110th annual TT races.

Once the skies clear, the 37.75-mile Mountain Course, two-lane country roads festooned with more than 200 turns, a mountain, stone walls, pubs, roving livestock, and race watchers in hedges, will come alive with racers hitting speeds excess of 200 mph. The TT is without parallel, an intense, immersive two-week long festival in a beautiful (if occasionally moist) setting where everyone loves you because, motorcycles.

I’ll be filing my ‘man on the island’ reports and video for Motorcycle.com again, capturing the goings on during the TT. All race results will posted on MO as well, so check in regularly.

Off The Grid (Again) on the Isle of Man TT 2016

So, before the racing fully kicks in, and while my riding gear is drying out, here are some of the storylines surrounding the 2017 TT.

The New Generation Has Arrived

TT experts say it takes between three and 10 years of racing to learn the TT Mountain Course in full. Think of the concentration, physical conditioning, and, well, cojones, required. TT start lists have been studded with familiar racers for years now, some of whom are well into their 30s and 40s and would be appearing at celebrity golf matches and starring in ED pharmaceutical ads as veterans of virtually any other sport.

John McGuinness at Ballaugh Bridge, Isle of Man TT 2016

John McGuinness (Honda – Jackson Honda Racing) at Ballaugh Bridge during qualifying for the Monster Energy Isle of Man TT. Photo by Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.

Fan favorites including 23-race TT winner John McGuinness (sadly, out of the TT this year for the first time since 1996 due to injuries from a crash at the NW200), chill Kiwi Bruce Anstey, with 11 wins and 36 total podiums, and Ian Lougher, who has started in 111 TT races, with 10 wins, can still win.

But despite the incredible danger, long learning curve, and scant prize money, a new generation of stars in in their 20s and early 30s have arrived. Roadrace royal family member Michael Dunlop, the ‘Bingley Bullet’ Ian Hutchinson, and up and comers James Hillier, Dean Harrison, Peter Hickman, and others, are now racking up victories, podiums, and top-10 finishes. Some of these names will be etched on TT ‘replicas’ for a decade or more to come, and the depth of field and level of competition for the TT might be greater than it has ever been.

Michael Dunlop Isle of Man TT 2016

Michael Dunlop literally flies over St Ninian’s crossroads. Photo by IOMTT.com

Want proof? Nineteen of the first 20 seeded riders for this year’s Senior TT have lapped at over 128 mph, with a collective 71 TT victories and 195 podiums.

Despite that, most competitors hold day jobs and race for the love racing. The TT, after 110 years, still draws in brave men and women to do the impossible. The rewards for winning – hell, for just completing in a TT – are meager in dollars but unmatched in achievement.

Paddock Patter At The 2016 Isle Of Man TT

The TT Will Make Sidecar Racing Cool Again

Well, it already is as cool as all get out, but sidecar racing is a sport that deserves greater respect, attention, and sponsorship. The three-wheeled machines are powered primarily by 600cc Fours with a kneeling driver and a ‘passenger’ who must climb all over the body of the outfit, with their ass, head, legs and other extremities inches from the pavement in what looks like motorcycle hot yoga. The price to be paid for getting one of the 200-plus turns wrong is quite high.

053117-2017-isle-of-man-tt-preview-birchalls-2016-sidecar-tt

Ben and Tom Birchall win Sure Sidecar TT Race 2 2016, setting a new lap record in the process. Photo by IOMTT.com

Interest in the sport is growing, and almost 50 entries will compete in two three-lap TTs, and the field includes 13 crews that have lapped the Mountain Course at more than 110 mph. Legendary driver/passenger team Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle, with a combined 25 TT wins are among the favorites. Multiple World and British Champion Tim Reeves will run with new passenger Mark Wilkes taking over from Patrick Farrance.

And sidecar racing is going Hollywood. I am blessed to know 92-years-young World Sidecar Champion passenger Stan Dibben, who is here at the TT again and starred in a fantastic short film about his exploits, called No Ordinary Passenger (linked here). Now there’s a new movie, not surprisingly titled 3 Wheeling, that will hopefully be the ‘On Any Sunday’ of sidecars, while making these idiosyncratic (or, as the solo riders call them, crazy) competitors the stars they deserve to be. The film chronicles the sidecar crews at the 2016 TT, focusing on Molyneux, Reeves and their passengers as they prepare to tackle the Mountain Course.

053117-2017-isle-of-man-tt-preview-three-wheeling-film-poster

Sidecar racing is as old as motorsports, and has a unique appeal. Show anyone unfamiliar with the sport video of a sidecar race, and they are bound to be agog. Let’s get behind this.

The Future of the TT is Bright

Since the first races in 1907, the TT has been compelling and controversial. It has survived two world wars, the loss of Grand Prix status, hundreds of racer and attendee deaths, regulatory and public scorn, and foot-and-mouth disease.

Danny Webb, Isle of Man TT

Danny Webb practicing for the 2016 Bennetts Lightweight TT Race: Photo by IOMTT.com

Still, it persists. Over 40,000 race fans will flood the island this year, up 30% since 2010. They will drop over 25 million GBP into the local economy, and the IOM’s residents and government are extremely welcoming to visitors.

2016 Isle of Man TT Wrap-Up Video

TV coverage, the lifeblood of sports, is on the rise. Over 339 hours of TT coverage was shown in 83 countries last year, reaching nearly 30 million people worldwide. Sponsorship and commercial revenue will follow. Manx Radio’s comprehensive online coverage, YouTube and social media have all contributed to dramatically increased awareness and passion. A major Hollywood movie about the TT is coming, and Big Ben Interactive is dropping a TT video game soon.

Ivan Linton, Isle of Man TT Lightweight TT race 2016

Ivan Lintin Flies the RC Express Kawasaki over Ballaugh Bridge on his way to victory in the 2016 Bennetts Lightweight TT Race. Photo by IOMTT.com

This TT marks the 110th year for the races, and I think it’s a good bet that there will be 110 more. Follow the all-electric TT Zero to see where this is going. Watch the sidecars. And set your DVRs for Velocity’s coverage.

It just stopped raining, I’m heading over to watch the first session at Bray Hill. Stay tuned to MO!

Isle of Man TT 2017 Preview appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Isle of Man TT 2017 Preview

May 31, 2017 admin 0

Despite a rainy, chilly practice week, where, as of this writing, there has been no practice but copious ale consumption, the Isle of Man is starting to fill up with thousands of visitors and motorcycles here for the 110th annual TT races.

Once the skies clear, the 37.75-mile Mountain Course, two-lane country roads festooned with more than 200 turns, a mountain, stone walls, pubs, roving livestock, and race watchers in hedges, will come alive with racers hitting speeds excess of 200 mph. The TT is without parallel, an intense, immersive two-week long festival in a beautiful (if occasionally moist) setting where everyone loves you because, motorcycles.

I’ll be filing my ‘man on the island’ reports and video for Motorcycle.com again, capturing the goings on during the TT. All race results will posted on MO as well, so check in regularly.

Off The Grid (Again) on the Isle of Man TT 2016

So, before the racing fully kicks in, and while my riding gear is drying out, here are some of the storylines surrounding the 2017 TT.

The New Generation Has Arrived

TT experts say it takes between three and 10 years of racing to learn the TT Mountain Course in full. Think of the concentration, physical conditioning, and, well, cojones, required. TT start lists have been studded with familiar racers for years now, some of whom are well into their 30s and 40s and would be appearing at celebrity golf matches and starring in ED pharmaceutical ads as veterans of virtually any other sport.

John McGuinness at Ballaugh Bridge, Isle of Man TT 2016

John McGuinness (Honda – Jackson Honda Racing) at Ballaugh Bridge during qualifying for the Monster Energy Isle of Man TT. Photo by Dave Kneen/Pacemaker Press.

Fan favorites including 23-race TT winner John McGuinness (sadly, out of the TT this year for the first time since 1996 due to injuries from a crash at the NW200), chill Kiwi Bruce Anstey, with 11 wins and 36 total podiums, and Ian Lougher, who has started in 111 TT races, with 10 wins, can still win.

But despite the incredible danger, long learning curve, and scant prize money, a new generation of stars in in their 20s and early 30s have arrived. Roadrace royal family member Michael Dunlop, the ‘Bingley Bullet’ Ian Hutchinson, and up and comers Steve Hillier, Dean Harrison, Peter Hickman, and others, are now racking up victories, podiums, and top-10 finishes. Some of these names will be etched on TT ‘replicas’ for a decade or more to come, and the depth of field and level of competition for the TT might be greater than it has ever been.

Michael Dunlop Isle of Man TT 2016

Michael Dunlop literally flies over St Ninian’s crossroads. Photo by IOMTT.com

Want proof? Nineteen of the first 20 seeded riders for this year’s Senior TT have lapped at over 128 mph, with a collective 71 TT victories and 195 podiums.

Despite that, most competitors hold day jobs and race for the love racing. The TT, after 110 years, still draws in brave men and women to do the impossible. The rewards for winning – hell, for just completing in a TT – are meager in dollars but unmatched in achievement.

Paddock Patter At The 2016 Isle Of Man TT

The TT Will Make Sidecar Racing Cool Again

Well, it already is as cool as all get out, but sidecar racing is a sport that deserves greater respect, attention, and sponsorship. The three-wheeled machines are powered primarily by 600cc Fours with a kneeling driver and a ‘passenger’ who must climb all over the body of the outfit, with their ass, head, legs and other extremities inches from the pavement in what looks like motorcycle hot yoga. The price to be paid for getting one of the 200-plus turns wrong is quite high.

053117-2017-isle-of-man-tt-preview-birchalls-2016-sidecar-tt

Ben and Tom Birchall win Sure Sidecar TT Race 2 2016, setting a new lap record in the process. Photo by IOMTT.com

Interest in the sport is growing, and almost 50 entries will compete in two three-lap TTs, and the field includes 13 crews that have lapped the Mountain Course at more than 110 mph. Legendary driver/passenger team Dave Molyneux and Dan Sayle, with a combined 25 TT wins are among the favorites. Multiple World and British Champion Tim Reeves will run with new passenger Mark Wilkes taking over from Patrick Farrance.

And sidecar racing is going Hollywood. I am blessed to know 92-years-young World Sidecar Champion passenger Stan Dibben, who is here at the TT again and starred in a fantastic short film about his exploits, called No Ordinary Passenger (linked here). Now there’s a new movie, not surprisingly titled 3 Wheeling, that will hopefully be the ‘On Any Sunday’ of sidecars, while making these idiosyncratic (or, as the solo riders call them, crazy) competitors the stars they deserve to be. The film chronicles the sidecar crews at the 2016 TT, focusing on Molyneux, Reeves and their passengers as they prepare to tackle the Mountain Course.

053117-2017-isle-of-man-tt-preview-three-wheeling-film-poster

Sidecar racing is as old as motorsports, and has a unique appeal. Show anyone unfamiliar with the sport video of a sidecar race, and they are bound to be agog. Let’s get behind this.

The Future of the TT is Bright

Since the first races in 1907, the TT has been compelling and controversial. It has survived two world wars, the loss of Grand Prix status, hundreds of racer and attendee deaths, regulatory and public scorn, and mad cow disease.

Danny Webb, Isle of Man TT

Danny Webb practicing for the 2016 Bennetts Lightweight TT Race: Photo by IOMTT.com

Still, it persists. Over 40,000 race fans will flood the island this year, up 30% since 2010. They will drop over 25 million GBP into the local economy, and the IOM’s residents and government are extremely welcoming to visitors.

2016 Isle of Man TT Wrap-Up Video

TV coverage, the lifeblood of sports, is on the rise. Over 339 hours of TT coverage was shown in 83 countries last year, reaching nearly 30 million people worldwide. Sponsorship and commercial revenue will follow. Manx Radio’s comprehensive online coverage, YouTube and social media have all contributed to dramatically increased awareness and passion. A major Hollywood movie about the TT is coming, and Big Ben Interactive is dropping a TT video game soon.

Ivan Linton, Isle of Man TT Lightweight TT race 2016

Ivan Lintin Flies the RC Express Kawasaki over Ballaugh Bridge on his way to victory in the 2016 Bennetts Lightweight TT Race. Photo by IOMTT.com

This TT marks the 110th year for the races, and I think it’s a good bet that there will be 110 more. Follow the all-electric TT Zero to see where this is going. Watch the sidecars. And set your DVRs for Velocity’s coverage.

It just stopped raining, I’m heading over to watch the first session at Bray Hill. Stay tuned to MO!

Isle of Man TT 2017 Preview appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

2018 Kymco Spade 150 Review First Ride

May 31, 2017 Gabe Ets-Hokin 0


2018 Kymco Spade 150

Editor Score: 74.0%

Engine 16.5/20
Suspension/Handling 11.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 5.0/10
Brakes 6.0/10
Instruments/Controls 3.0/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.0/10
Appearance/Quality 8.0/10
Desirability 8.0/10
Value 8.0/10
Overall Score 74/100

Asheville, North Carolina has been the scene of several Kymco product launches, and why not? It’s an oddball little city deep in the heart of Dixie that boasts world-class food, fun and roads. It’s kind of an underdog, just like the 54-year-old Taiwanese motor company. Kymco is known (when it is known) for durable, workmanlike products that deliver reliability and value… but not necessarily leading-edge style or wacky arrest-me fun. That changes with this here Spade 150, and Kymco let me ride and abuse the new model so I could lay a brief riding impression on ya’ll (the North Carolina is sticking).

Kymco has clearly decided to get all niche-y on us, with what it claims is “the world’s first production retro-mini motorcycle.” The Spade gets a gutsy lil’ critter of a motor, an air-cooled 149.4cc Single with a four-valve, SOHC head and EFI. Kymco claims it’ll make 11.8 horsepower, which should give you real-world numbers close to (or even better than) the 8-ish numbers we saw from competition like Honda’s Grom and Kawi’s Z125. My butt-dyno indicates it could be so, meaning a top speed of around 60 mph.

Battle Of The 125cc Ankle Biters

The Spade’s good fit, finish and performance is a little offset by the hideous exhaust system.

The Spade’s good fit, finish and performance is a little offset by the hideous exhaust system.

The rest of the bike is just as tried-and-true: tube-steel frame, twin shocks and a 1.6-gallon steel tank. The seat is low at 28 inches, claimed wet weight is 266 pounds, and the package is so narrow that if you don’t feel confident riding this bike you should consider training wheels.

At $2,999 it’s the best-priced retro-mini, and cheaper than the Honda Grom or Kawasaki Z125 – but $1,000 more than Kymco’s own K-Pipe 125. That extra grand gets you fuel injection, much more power, a little hidden stashbox at the back of the seat, 12-volt outlet under the speedo/tachometer as well as styling so good I assumed Kymco had hired a fancy design firm – Kymco’s peeps assured me it was all in-house.

The Spade looks very good up close and personal. Build quality as well as material quality was better than I remember on prior Kymco models. All the controls operate smoothly, and the paint and graphics looked good as well. The saddle is nicely padded and supportive, and there were little touches – like the cool race-style footpegs – that surprised me. A nit I’d pick is the exhaust system, with its big welds and ugly brackets, but this is otherwise a great-looking little bike.

Calling the Spade “easy to ride” is like saying “marshmallows are delicious.”

Calling the Spade “easy to ride” is like saying “marshmallows are delicious.”

And now the part where I ride, and you know I’m going to like it, no? Of course I do. People are programmed to adore miniature things, and we really like miniature things that we can abuse. The Spade turns the most mild amongst us into hooligans. You won’t break all the speed limits, but there are other laws you will want to break, including North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 20, sec. 160 (driving on sidewalks), sec. 140 (reckless driving), or, if your friends have also purchased Spades, 141.3 (racing on public roads).

I am pleased to report that the new crop of young motojournalists will, given the correct circumstances, behave like jackasses just like the older kids, and the Spade is a willing accomplice. As with the Grom, Z125, and other motorcycles with small wheels and Graco-length wheelbases, the Spade likes stoppies, burnouts, hackies, slides and even wheelies if you try hard enough, plus it’ll do other things you are probably not insured for.

But it can be civil. The EFI coaxes the bike to life and it assumes a soft, chuffing idle, instantly ready to go. The wide, high bar, low seat and light weight make it easy to move around town. Clutch pull is light, and shifting is easy, if not quite refined. It feels slow, with a flat powerband, but you can rev it to over 10,000 rpm for every last advantage in your endless stoplight drag races with pickup trucks and delivery vans. The seat is wide and supportive, and there’s room for a middle-aged guy and his teenage daughter, although there will be complaining.

Customizers MNNTHBX agree when it comes to the exhaust, and offer this tasty stainless system, along with a ton of other cool cafe dress-up parts.

Customizers MNNTHBX agree when it comes to the exhaust, and offer this tasty stainless system, along with a ton of other cool cafe dress-up parts.

If you’ve read this far, you probably want one, and I don’t think you could go wrong. It’s affordable fun, and it already has aftermarket support. Customizers MNNTHBX (for “man in the box;” they’re Alice in Chains fans) have developed a full line of café-racer accessories: exhaust, rear-fender eliminator, rearsets, bar-end mirrors, clip-ons and more. It may not have the refinement of the Grom or Z125, but it’s still a lot of fun and has the look you want. It’ll be at your local Kymco dealer at the end of August in white, matte black, blue or brown.

The Spade’s good fit, finish and performance is a little offset by the hideous exhaust system.
053017-2018-kymco-spade-150-parked-straddling
053017-2018-kymco-spade-150-parked-action-2
053017-2018-kymco-spade-150-parked-1
053017-2018-kymco-spade-150-parked-2
Customizers MNNTHBX agree when it comes to the exhaust, and offer this tasty stainless system, along with a ton of other cool cafe dress-up parts.
Calling the Spade “easy to ride” is like saying “marshmallows are delicious.”
053017-2018-kymco-spade-150-parked-4
053017-2018-kymco-spade-150-parked-instruments

2018 Kymco Spade 150 Review – First Ride appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

MotoGP Mugello Preview 2017

May 30, 2017 admin 0

Last time out in France, the racing gods smiled upon Maverick Viñales and Dani Pedrosa while flipping off Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. The enjoyable jam-packed top four took a beating, with Viñales now enjoying a 17-point lead over series #2 Pedrosa. Rossi is hurt. The Hondas are a pain to ride. There’s lots on the line heading to Mugello and Round 6 of the 2017 MotoGP season.

Before we start, I wanted to acknowledge, having met him several times, how much I respected Nicky Hayden as a person. His family must be shattered. Greatly respected in the paddock, I probably sold his racing skills short for years. He touched the lives of countless people and will be missed by many more. Kevin Duke’s tribute was just right.

Nicky Hayden finished third at Mugello in 2006 en route to winning the MotoGP World Championship.

“Nestled in the hills of Tuscany near the Italian jewel of Florence, the natural beauty of the Autodromo del Mugello is a stunning spectacle on its own. Packed to the rafters with fans when MotoGP™ – and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – come to town, the circuit and event is one of the true wonders of the Championship. More than a race weekend, Mugello is almost a festival to celebrate of speed, competition and motorcycling.” MotoGP press release 5/29/2017

Bollocks. Mugello is a heavyweight brawl, staged in front of thousands of passionate, mostly Italian, fans of one rider/bike or other, in various stages of inebriation, celebrating speed, nationalism, camaraderie, and the unbridled joy that comes with winning what is, for them, the Super Bowl. People thumping their chests, proclaiming, “The EU is great. Whatever. WE’RE ITALIAN!!!”

The Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley is usually one of the most dramatic events of the MotoGP year. Home to Rossi and Ducati, Mugello is a MotoGP shrine; this is a week in which everyone’s Italian. Unfortunately, it has arrived at a moment when Ducati Corse is having a rough time – five mechanical retirements at Jerez – and local hero Rossi has hurt himself in a training accident just after crashing out of 20 certain points in France.

With three accomplished Aliens chasing him – something like a combined 175 years of racing experience – Viñales must take care of the knitting this weekend. Memo to #25: Riders coming to Mugello leading by 17 have left leading by 42. Or trailing by eight. This is one of the pivot points of the season; mistakes are not tolerated. Races like this are the reason Yamaha is giving you wheelbarrows full of euros. Places like Mugello are where you earn money and reputation. Keep your head down.

Recent History at Mugello

Marc Marquez edged out Jorge Lorenzo in 2014 in part of his historic win streak to start the season.

In 2014, Jorge Lorenzo, then a Yamaha icon, despite having led for 21 laps, was unable to fend off Marquez at the flag, getting pimped by 12/100ths, with Rossi third, at least finishing the race, if not winning it. The win put Marquez six-for-six in 2014 while Team Yamaha, doing everything possible under massive pressure, put both riders on the podium but was unable to take the win at Rossi’s home crib. Marquez left Italy with a 53-point margin over Rossi, the season reduced to a race for second.

2015 was another Lorenzo-on-rails outing, a carbon copy of what he had delivered in France two weeks earlier. Exciting for Jorge, numbing for the fans. Polesitter Andrea Iannone, aboard the rapidly-improving Ducati GP15, completed his career-best premier class outing in second place despite a long list of injuries. Rossi was able to dismiss a healing Pedrosa to claim the final spot on the podium. Marquez crashed out mid-race during his season of discontent. The locals went home happy with two paisans and a Ducati on the podium.

A blown engine at last year’s Mugello race was a key moment in the 2016 MotoGP season.

Last year featured the infamous blown engines for Lorenzo and Rossi, the second of which I judged to be the most important moment of the 2016 season. After chasing teammate Lorenzo madly with full fuel tanks, Rossi pulled off, white smoke pouring out of his M1 like the Sistine Chapel upon election of a new Pope. Marc Marquez picked up the baton and chased Lorenzo to the finish, but at the end it was Lorenzo by 1/100th over Marquez, with Iannone on the Ducati GP16 third. It was arguably one of Lorenzo’s best rides ever, one he is unlikely to repeat this year on the Ducati.

Tranche Time

Maverick Viñales returned to the top of the championship race (and Bruce’s tranches) after a win at Le Mans.

After Round 3:

Tranche 1: Viñales, Marquez, Rossi
Tranche 2: Pedrosa, Crutchlow, Dovizioso, Zarco, Miller,
Tranche 3: Bautista, Iannone, Petrucci, Baz, Redding, Folger
Tranche 4: A. Espargaro, P. Espargaro, Barbera, Lorenzo, (Rins)
Tranche 5: Smith, Lowes, Rabat, Abraham

After Round 5:

Tranche 1: Viñales, Marquez, Rossi, Pedrosa↑
Tranche 2: Zarco, Crutchlow, Lorenzo↑↑, Folger↑, Dovizioso
Tranche 3: Petrucci, Miller↓, Redding, Baz, A Espargaro↑, Iannone
Tranche 4: P Espargaro, Barbera, Bautista, Abraham↑, Smith↑
Tranche 5: Lowes, Rabat, (Rins)

Generally, when folks argue about the relative merits of one team or one rider versus another, the argument ends with one of them bellowing, “SCOREBOARD, baby!” In MotoGP, the bikes, anecdotally regarded as 20% of the package, allow the arbitrary and careless ranking of riders you see above without regard to the standings. It may also reflect current trends different from those extant in Qatar or after Round 3. Paging Jorge Lorenzo. One last observation: Danilo Petrucci is underperforming on the Ducati GP17. He needs some serious rain.

Rossi’s Injury

Valentino Rossi remains a question mark as he awaits medical clearance to race this weekend.

Our crack research team has contacted Vale’s doctor and convinced him that Italy has no HIPPA regs to violate, in order to further convince him to provide us, complete strangers, with exclusive information on the rider’s current sitch. As it turns out, his condition has been upgraded to “sore as hell.” He has a list of internal injuries in which the word “kidneys” was included, which is never good. But he is currently in the hot tub with a bevy team of qualified young nurses receiving intensive massage and should be somewhat recovered, if completely drained, as it were, come Friday. MotoGP riders have great health insurance. And high pain tolerance. Strong cores, too.

Look, they wouldn’t have released him from the hospital if he was bleeding internally. The shame of it is that it comes at this time, when he desperately wants and needs to do well in front of his homeys. The priests at his old country parish in Tavullia are praying for him. This may turn out to be his last best chance to insert himself back into title contention this year. He needs to cinch it up.

Aspar, Danny Kent in the News

Aspar has re-upped with Ducati for 2018, suggesting there will be eight Desmosedici’s on the grid again next season. With Dorna’s stated intent of having four bikes for each manufacturer, and Suzuki probably ready to field a satellite team, this is a surprising development. There is also talk that Audi is interested in selling the Ducati business. The Aspar team is typically short of cash; perhaps the three newer OEMs were reluctant to sign up with a financially shaky operation like Martinez’s. The 2018 deal could be adversely affected by a sale at the corporate level as well.

Danny Kent finished 10th in his return to Moto3 last time out in France.

2015 Moto3 World Champion Danny Kent will be back on the Moto2 grid at Mugello as he replaces Iker Lecuona at Garage Plus Interwetten while the Spaniard recovers from a broken collarbone. This, after a decent guest appearance in France in Moto3. This after he walked out of his contract with Kiefer Racing in Moto2 earlier in the year. And this after titling in Moto3 in 2016. Guy’s getting passed around the MotoGP mosh pit. One suspects he may have to do a year’s perdition in Moto3 before finding a new full time ride in Moto2 for the following season. He must still have plenty of sponsor money. Memo to Danny: Fix, or swallow, your problems – don’t walk away from them.

Your Weekend Forecast

The long-term weekend weather forecast is for sunny and hot, conditions once favorable to the Hondas. Since it’s hard to predict tomorrow’s weather, we’ll ignore it for now, but rain is always possible. As for results, it’s hard not to see both factory Yamahas and Marc Marquez on the podium. One from the factory Ducati team if the weather holds. Dani Pedrosa. Cal Crutchlow. Jack Miller in the rain. The mind reels.

After a slow start, Dani Pedrosa rebounded and now sits second in the championship. Honda teammate Marc Marquez is not far away, just 10 points back in fourth.

Before some readers get wound up, let me acknowledge the likelihood that the Moto2 and Moto3 races will be breathtaking thrillers. I’ll do what I can. The MotoGP race goes off early Sunday morning in the U.S. We will, as always, have results and analysis here as soon as possible. The editors and censors love working weekends.

MotoGP Mugello Preview 2017 appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

MotoGP Mugello Preview 2017

May 30, 2017 admin 0

Last time out in France, the racing gods smiled upon Maverick Viñales and Dani Pedrosa while flipping off Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. The enjoyable jam-packed top four took a beating, with Viñales now enjoying a 17-point lead over series #2 Pedrosa. Rossi is hurt. The Hondas are a pain to ride. There’s lots on the line heading to Mugello and Round 6 of the 2017 MotoGP season.

Before we start, I wanted to acknowledge, having met him several times, how much I respected Nicky Hayden as a person. His family must be shattered. Greatly respected in the paddock, I probably sold his racing skills short for years. He touched the lives of countless people and will be missed by many more. Kevin Duke’s tribute was just right.

Nicky Hayden finished third at Mugello in 2006 en route to winning the MotoGP World Championship.

“Nestled in the hills of Tuscany near the Italian jewel of Florence, the natural beauty of the Autodromo del Mugello is a stunning spectacle on its own. Packed to the rafters with fans when MotoGP™ – and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – come to town, the circuit and event is one of the true wonders of the Championship. More than a race weekend, Mugello is almost a festival to celebrate of speed, competition and motorcycling.” MotoGP press release 5/29/2017

Bollocks. Mugello is a heavyweight brawl, staged in front of thousands of passionate, mostly Italian, fans of one rider/bike or other, in various stages of inebriation, celebrating speed, nationalism, camaraderie, and the unbridled joy that comes with winning what is, for them, the Super Bowl. People thumping their chests, proclaiming, “The EU is great. Whatever. WE’RE ITALIAN!!!”

The Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley is usually one of the most dramatic events of the MotoGP year. Home to Rossi and Ducati, Mugello is a MotoGP shrine; this is a week in which everyone’s Italian. Unfortunately, it has arrived at a moment when Ducati Corse is having a rough time – five mechanical retirements at Jerez – and local hero Rossi has hurt himself in a training accident just after crashing out of 20 certain points in France.

With three accomplished Aliens chasing him – something like a combined 175 years of racing experience – Viñales must take care of the knitting this weekend. Memo to #25: Riders coming to Mugello leading by 17 have left leading by 42. Or trailing by eight. This is one of the pivot points of the season; mistakes are not tolerated. Races like this are the reason Yamaha is giving you wheelbarrows full of euros. Places like Mugello are where you earn money and reputation. Keep your head down.

Recent History at Mugello

Marc Marquez edged out Jorge Lorenzo in 2014 in part of his historic win streak to start the season.

In 2014, Jorge Lorenzo, then a Yamaha icon, despite having led for 21 laps, was unable to fend off Marquez at the flag, getting pimped by 12/100ths, with Rossi third, at least finishing the race, if not winning it. The win put Marquez six-for-six in 2014 while Team Yamaha, doing everything possible under massive pressure, put both riders on the podium but was unable to take the win at Rossi’s home crib. Marquez left Italy with a 53-point margin over Rossi, the season reduced to a race for second.

2015 was another Lorenzo-on-rails outing, a carbon copy of what he had delivered in France two weeks earlier. Exciting for Jorge, numbing for the fans. Polesitter Andrea Iannone, aboard the rapidly-improving Ducati GP15, completed his career-best premier class outing in second place despite a long list of injuries. Rossi was able to dismiss a healing Pedrosa to claim the final spot on the podium. Marquez crashed out mid-race during his season of discontent. The locals went home happy with two paisans and a Ducati on the podium.

A blown engine at last year’s Mugello race was a key moment in the 2016 MotoGP season.

Last year featured the infamous blown engines for Lorenzo and Rossi, the second of which I judged to be the most important moment of the 2016 season. After chasing teammate Lorenzo madly with full fuel tanks, Rossi pulled off, white smoke pouring out of his M1 like the Sistine Chapel upon election of a new Pope. Marc Marquez picked up the baton and chased Lorenzo to the finish, but at the end it was Lorenzo by 1/100th over Marquez, with Iannone on the Ducati GP16 third. It was arguably one of Lorenzo’s best rides ever, one he is unlikely to repeat this year on the Ducati.

Tranche Time

Maverick Viñales returned to the top of the championship race (and Bruce’s tranches) after a win at Le Mans.

After Round 3:

Tranche 1: Viñales, Marquez, Rossi
Tranche 2: Pedrosa, Crutchlow, Dovizioso, Zarco, Miller,
Tranche 3: Bautista, Iannone, Petrucci, Baz, Redding, Folger
Tranche 4: A. Espargaro, P. Espargaro, Barbera, Lorenzo, (Rins)
Tranche 5: Smith, Lowes, Rabat, Abraham

After Round 5:

Tranche 1: Viñales, Marquez, Rossi, Pedrosa↑
Tranche 2: Zarco, Crutchlow, Lorenzo↑↑, Folger↑, Dovizioso
Tranche 3: Petrucci, Miller↓, Redding, Baz, A Espargaro↑, Iannone
Tranche 4: P Espargaro, Barbera, Bautista, Abraham↑, Smith↑
Tranche 5: Lowes, Rabat, (Rins)

Generally, when folks argue about the relative merits of one team or one rider versus another, the argument ends with one of them bellowing, “SCOREBOARD, baby!” In MotoGP, the bikes, anecdotally regarded as 20% of the package, allow the arbitrary and careless ranking of riders you see above without regard to the standings. It may also reflect current trends different from those extant in Qatar or after Round 3. Paging Jorge Lorenzo. One last observation: Danilo Petrucci is underperforming on the Ducati GP17. He needs some serious rain.

Rossi’s Injury

Valentino Rossi remains a question mark as he awaits medical clearance to race this weekend.

Our crack research team has contacted Vale’s doctor and convinced him that Italy has no HIPPA regs to violate, in order to further convince him to provide us, complete strangers, with exclusive information on the rider’s current sitch. As it turns out, his condition has been upgraded to “sore as hell.” He has a list of internal injuries in which the word “kidneys” was included, which is never good. But he is currently in the hot tub with a bevy team of qualified young nurses receiving intensive massage and should be somewhat recovered, if completely drained, as it were, come Friday. MotoGP riders have great health insurance. And high pain tolerance. Strong cores, too.

Look, they wouldn’t have released him from the hospital if he was bleeding internally. The shame of it is that it comes at this time, when he desperately wants and needs to do well in front of his homeys. The priests at his old country parish in Tavullia are praying for him. This may turn out to be his last best chance to insert himself back into title contention this year. He needs to cinch it up.

Aspar, Danny Kent in the News

Aspar has re-upped with Ducati for 2018, suggesting there will be eight Desmosedici’s on the grid again next season. With Dorna’s stated intent of having four bikes for each manufacturer, and Suzuki probably ready to field a satellite team, this is a surprising development. There is also talk that Audi is interested in selling the Ducati business. The Aspar team is typically short of cash; perhaps the three newer OEMs were reluctant to sign up with a financially shaky operation like Martinez’s. The 2018 deal could be adversely affected by a sale at the corporate level as well.

Danny Kent finished 10th in his return to Moto3 last time out in France.

2015 Moto3 World Champion Danny Kent will be back on the Moto2 grid at Mugello as he replaces Iker Lecuona at Garage Plus Interwetten while the Spaniard recovers from a broken collarbone. This, after a decent guest appearance in France in Moto3. This after he walked out of his contract with Kiefer Racing in Moto2 earlier in the year. And this after titling in Moto3 in 2016. Guy’s getting passed around the MotoGP mosh pit. One suspects he may have to do a year’s perdition in Moto3 before finding a new full time ride in Moto2 for the following season. He must still have plenty of sponsor money. Memo to Danny: Fix, or swallow, your problems – don’t walk away from them.

Your Weekend Forecast

The long-term weekend weather forecast is for sunny and hot, conditions once favorable to the Hondas. Since it’s hard to predict tomorrow’s weather, we’ll ignore it for now, but rain is always possible. As for results, it’s hard not to see both factory Yamahas and Marc Marquez on the podium. One from the factory Ducati team if the weather holds. Dani Pedrosa. Cal Crutchlow. Jack Miller in the rain. The mind reels.

After a slow start, Dani Pedrosa rebounded and now sits second in the championship. Honda teammate Marc Marquez is not far away, just 10 points back in fourth.

Before some readers get wound up, let me acknowledge the likelihood that the Moto2 and Moto3 races will be breathtaking thrillers. I’ll do what I can. The MotoGP race goes off early Sunday morning in the U.S. We will, as always, have results and analysis here as soon as possible. The editors and censors love working weekends.

MotoGP Mugello Preview 2017 appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

MotoAmerica Gaining Popularity

May 30, 2017 Press Release 0

Exactly what the doctor ordered. Go MotoAmerica!

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Record Ratings On beIN SPORTS For MotoAmerica

Social Media Also Shows Huge Gains

COSTA MESA, CA (May 30, 2017) – BeIN SPORTS and MotoAmerica are pleased to announce that the 2017 MotoAmerica Series has received record high audiences on the network with ratings up a whopping 54 percent over 2016.

“This is great news,” said MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey. “Our racing has been incredible and our partners at beIN SPORTS do a great job at every round capturing that racing and producing a show that is second to none. It’s nice to see our audience grow at this sort of rate. This is great news for all of us at MotoAmerica and beIN SPORTS, and for our riders, teams, sponsorship partners and fans.”

The TV audience isn’t the only area of growth for the 2017 series as MotoAmerica’s social media channels have grown some 43 percent in followers since last season.

“The growth in our social media is a really good sign,” Rainey said. “It shows that the hard work is paying off and that our fans like what we’re doing. Social media is the perfect way to keep our fans informed on our series, our riders, teams, sponsors and everybody else who makes MotoAmerica what it is.”

Three rounds and six races of the 2017 Motul Superbike class are in the books with four different winners in the six races with an average margin of victory of just 1.3 seconds, including the only “runaway” victory of the season in race two at VIRginia International Raceway of 4.4 seconds by four-time series champion Josh Hayes. All of the Motul Superbike races have featured battles at the front with as many as six riders involved.

The 2017 MotoAmerica Series resumes next week with the Dunlop Championship at Road America, June 2-4, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for round four of the 10-race series.

MotoAmerica Gaining Popularity appeared first on Motorcycle.com News.

AMA Vintage Days ROKs!

May 30, 2017 Press Release 0

Riders of Kawasaki converge on the annual AMA Vintage Days event.

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AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days will celebrate Riders of Kawasaki

Kawasaki history, riders and Hall of Famers will take center stage July 7-9 at Lexington’s Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (May 30, 2017) – Monster Energy Kawasaki riders Eli Tomac and Josh Grant came into Round 4 of the AMA Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship looking for the win. It wasn’t long before the No. 3 machine was looking comfortable underneath the dome, qualifying four-tenths of a

On July 7-9 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki, will showcase the riders and machines that have made Kawasaki motorcycles famous for more than five decades in America.

“Since 1966, Kawasaki has delivered on its promise to provide American motorcyclists high-performance fun, sensible transportation, the keys to two-wheeled adventure and everything in between,” said AMA Chief Operations Officer Jeff Massey. “AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki, will tell the stories of the men and women who have enjoyed Kawasaki’s incredible machines, from the 1966 Samurai to the breathtaking 2017 Ninja H2R, and in the off-road arena, we’ve seen bikes like the legendary Bighorn and the championship-winning KX250F and KX450F motocross bikes.

“In addition, this partnership allows us to highlight some of the benefits of the AMA affinity program, including ROK, Powered by the AMA, designed for AMA members who are fans of Kawasaki motorcycles,” Massey added.

Kawasaki has a rich heritage of performance, exemplified by the launch of the Mach III 500cc two-stroke triple in 1969 and then the legendary four-cylinder 900cc Z1 just four years later. Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA will have on display several historic machines from the company’s private collection at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days to celebrate that history.

Information about ROK, Powered by the AMA, also will be front and center throughout the event. ROK, Powered by the AMA, is an affinity membership of the association (see www.americanmotorcyclist.com/for-members/ROK/join). It is intended for members who are loyal to the Kawasaki brand and, as with all AMA affinity groups, it is available at no additional charge to AMA members. ROK, Powered by the AMA, members receive special benefits from Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA, such as a 10 percent discount from all purchases at www.kawasaki.com.

“Kawasaki and ROK, Powered by the AMA, are proud to be a part of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, which draws tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts each year,” said Greg Lasiewski, Senior Brand Communications/Sponsorships and ROK Specialist. “We encourage all Kawasaki riders to make the trip to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to experience this great event firsthand.”

For more information about ROK, Powered by the AMA, see www.kawasaki.com/rok/whoweare.

AMA members will have the opportunity to join the ROK, Powered by the AMA, affinity group at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days and receive special incentives directly from Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA.

The grand marshal for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki, will be announced soon.

AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Riders of Kawasaki, is an annual fundraiser for the nonprofit AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. The event features vintage motorcycle racing, bike shows, seminars, demo rides, live music, the American Motor Drome Wall of Death, the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days Swap Meet, brought to you by Federal Motorcycle Shipping, with nearly 1,000 independent vendors and much more. Moto Armory is sponsoring the off-road racing portion of the AMA Vintage Grand Championship.

The Old Bike Barn is sponsoring the Old Bike Barn Crossroads, which includes live music, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Bike Show, club displays, a craft beer garden, vendors and more.

The full schedule of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days events is available at www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com.

Tickets are available for purchase at www.midohio.com or at the gate. A weekend pass is $60, a single-day admission for Friday or Saturday is $40 and a single-day admission for Sunday is $35. Kids 12 and under get in free.

AMA members get a $15 ticket discount through June 5. To take advantage of the member discount, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Events/AMA-Vintage-Motorcycle-Days-Tickets.

AMA Vintage Days ROKs! appeared first on Motorcycle.com News.

Speedway At The Grand Begins May 31st

May 30, 2017 Press Release 0

Speedway, Speedway, Speedway!

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Third Annual Connor Penhall Memorial Cup Set to Kick Off 2017 Season at Industry Racing

Speedway at The Grand

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. (May 30, 2017) – Industry Racing / Speedway at The Grand, Southern California’s premier speedway racing facility and the only covered track in the country, is proud to present the Third Annual Connor Penhall Memorial Cup onWednesday, May 31st, from The Grand Arena at Industry Hills Expo Center. For the third consecutive year this celebration of the life of the late Connor Penhall will kick off the Industry Racing season, raising awareness of the dangers of drunk driving while also encouraging added safety measures for road construction workers. Gates will open to the public for opening night at The Grand Arena at 6:00 p.m., with the festivities slated to get underway at 7:00 p.m.

Connor was an up-and-coming racer who had won both the Baja 1000 and Baja 500 twice, aspiring to follow in the footsteps of his father, Bruce Penhall, a two-time World Speedway Champion and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame member. In April 2012 Connor tragically lost his life while working construction on Interstate 10, and beginning in 2015 the Memorial Cup was established to celebrate his enthusiastic spirit and natural talent on a motorcycle that made him beloved by the entire racing community. Since his passing, the Penhall family has fought valiantly in Connor’s memory to inject change in the amount of safety provided to highway construction workers, while also bringing much-needed awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving, and the unnecessary tragedies the action produces far too often.


Connor Penhall Memorial Cup Winners Trophy

The Grand Marshal for the 2017 Connor Penhall Memorial Cup will be AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame member Mike Bast, one of the most prolific American speedway racers. Undoubtedly the most dominant rider of the 1970’s, Bast won an incredible seven American Speedway Championships, including five straight from 1975-1979. He served as Bruce Penhall’s mentor throughout the early stages Penhall’s illustrious career.

“Bruce and I go back to about 1975 where I remember racing against him at the L.A. Coliseum. I thought the ‘kid’ at the time had great potential and wanted him on my L.A. Sprockets team,” said Bast. “In 1977 we traveled to England together, and the rest is history. Bruce went on to become one of the greatest Speedway riders of all time and a man I greatly admire. I consider Bruce to be a true friend that had always been there for me through good times and bad. My family and I will be forever grateful to him and I’m honored to accept his request to serve as Grand Marshal for the Connor Penhall Memorial Cup.”

On the track, the fastest speedway racers in the nation will compete for a purse nearing $10,000 in what will be the start of the 14th season of Industry Racing / Speedway at The Grand competition, the only AMA-sanctioned speedway in Southern California. Highly competitive action will take place across several divisions, highlighted by the Division 1 Championship and complemented by Junior Speedway and Pee Wee races. All riders will be chasing the coveted winner’s trophy special to the Connor Penhall Memorial Cup, a custom-painted helmet by Troy Lee Designs.

Leading the way in the field of competitors is Billy Janniro, who remains undefeated at the Connor Penhall Memorial Cup. Additionally, Broc Nicol will take a break from his full-time competition in Europe to return to the states in an effort to end Janniro’s reign. Also included in this deeply talented lineup are the likes of Luke Becker, Aaron Fox, Gage Geist, Kurtis Hamill, Gino Manzares, Dillon Ruml, Max Ruml, and more!


Billy Janniro will look to remain undefeated at the Memorial Cup.

All the action can be seen as it unfolds online via the live webcast hosted on Livestream.

Ticket Details (Box Office Opens at 5:00 p.m. on Race Day):

Special Event Pricing

  • General Admission – $17
  • Seniors (55+), Military, & Juniors – $11
  • 12 & Under with Adult Supervision – FREE!
Parking:
  • $5 for cars/trucks
  • FREE for motorcycles

Additional ticket options are available for group rates and for the entirety of the 2017 racing season by calling 626-330-0324. Visa & Mastercard are accepted.

Speedway At The Grand Begins May 31st appeared first on Motorcycle.com News.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR/RF Video Review

May 30, 2017 Tom Roderick 0

The 2017 Aprilia RSV4 is the culmination of sportbike perfection. Not only is the RSV4 insanely fast and one of the best handling motorcycles available today, its exhaust note is more intoxicating than a fifth of whiskey, while its new-for-2017 electronics package is industry-leading, to say the least. For 2016 we awarded the RSV4 our Sportbike of the Year trophy, which it may well retain for 2017.

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR/RF Review – First Ride

Boasting revised electronics including an up/down quickshifter, cruise control, cornering ABS, a color TFT display, and multimedia platform the RSV4 wants for nothing outside of semi-active suspension and heated grips. Its V-Four engine is incredibly user-friendly with equal parts bottom, mid, and top end power making gear selection for corner-exiting performance almost an afterthought. Brembo M50 calipers bring everything to a stop with authority, while also providing excellent feel at the lever.

2017 Aprilia Tuono 1100 RR/Factory First Ride Review

Aprilia’s V-Four package is the best thing to happen to the engine configuration since Honda’s RC30. But if you prefer something a little less racer and more streetable, Aprilia offers the same basic package in a naked streetfighter Tuono form. Either way, if the sound and fury of a V-Four is what you’re after, look no further than Aprilia and its RSV4 in RR or RF versions, or the Tuono in RR and Factory versions.

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2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR/RF Video Review appeared first on Motorcycle.com.