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April 8, 2006 We wrote recently about a new form of motorsport known as drifting, the first four-wheeled motorsport in which speed is not the key factor. Instead of being the fastest, it’s about performing the best tricks and extreme manoeuvres. Motorcycling has two equivalents – one on tarmac, where stoppies, wheelies and all manner of trickery are performed on road bikes and Freestyle Motocross (FMX) which is performed over jumps using motocross bikes. Though all of these sports are in their infancy, FMX is already shaping up as a mainstream spectator sport thanks to being extremely spectacular. Red Bull is a name synonymous with Xtreme sports of all descriptions, having organized many competitions for fledgling Xtreme sports and supported many others. Red Bull is now developing the sport into a major arena sport as was evidenced last weekend when it filled the world's largest bull fighting arena, the Monumental Plaza de Toros in Mexico City for the Red Bull X-Fighters FMX. Still images don’t do Xtreme sports justice but we defy you not to be oggle the array of awesome pics in the image gallery of this story, or wonder at just what type of sports we may evolve in the future. The event was won by 23-year-old Swiss rider, Mat Rebeaud, who put on such a spectacular display that he forced odds-on favourite American "Wunderkind"Travis Pastrana to try a little too hard, crashing out of the final in spectacular fashion. Read More
April 4, 2006 BMW’s new twin cylinder 800 is getting rave reviews from around the motorcycle press for its responsiveness and lean and athletic nature but one of the most surprising tributes to the machine has been paid by former World motorcycle stunt champion Christian Pfeiffer. BMW Motorrad was happy to oblige when Pfeiffer requested an F 800 as his new "working tool" at the very start of the freestyle season. Pfeiffer debuted the new motorcycle with flying colours in February at the "Stunt Wars" in sunny Florida. "Stunt Wars" is the biggest freestyle motorcycle competition in the US and is regarded by pros as the unofficial world championship. Pfeiffer won hands down against the best stunt professionals in the world, with free-hand wheelie circles followed by a 230 degree turn - a feat never seen before. Pfeiffer was particularly enthusiastic about the F 800's engine characteristics: "The engine is really well connected to the throttle and the power is transmitted spontaneously and sensitively - much better than in my last motorcycle with chain drive. That is exactly what I have always wanted for my stunts - absolutely perfect. From the very beginning I felt good on this bike, the balance is great - I hardly had to do anything to it, almost everything stayed as standard." Read More
March 26, 2006 Ducati’s Loris Capirossi won today's season-opening Spanish GP to put the Ducati Marlboro Team at the top of the MotoGP points table for the first time in history. The race could prove to be a pivotal moment in MotoGP history, as it saw reigning champ Valentino Rossi knocked off on the second corner, and the coming of age of two of Rossi’s much younger rivals in Danni Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. Pedrosa incredibly challenged for the lead in his first MotoGP race and headed a Honda RC211V freight train that stretched from second (Pedrosa) through sixth place (Hayden, Elias, Melandri, Stoner). Stoner was almost as impressive, as his sixth came after missing the pre-season meaning he started his first race on a bike that was well behind in development. With Kawasaki now competitive with race leading machinery and more promise from Suzuki, it’s clear that 2006 will be a far more evenly balanced year of competition. In true never-say-die fashion, Rossi remounted after his first lap crash and finished the race to grab 14th place and two championship points – perhaps a pointer to just how valuable points will be over coming months. Read More
March 23, 2006 Way back in the Northern hemisphere autumn of 2000, Yamaha released the Fazer 1000 – a more upright, naked version of its R1 1000cc supersport machine for riders who wanted maximum power but didn’t want the "praying mantis" riding position because they spent a goodly proportion of their time on city streets. Over the last few years, as competition has increased in the 1000 supersport category, the R1 has evolved considerably while the Fazer has had only minor revisions. At the Salon Moto de Paris last year, Yamaha showed two versions of an all-new Fazer - a naked streetfighter N model sporting a cutting edge headlight design and the faired S model with half-cowl and R1 style lights. Both models reach the showroom floor this week, with an all-new aluminium frame and swingarm with optimal balance between torsional, lateral and vertical stiffness for a great-handling, responsive ride … oh, and 150 bhp in your right hand and a mid-range that’s 7% stronger than the already brutal R1! The new Fazer might now be the fastest point-to-point motorcycle on the roads if there's a city between those points. Read More
March 14, 2006 A few months is a long time in motor racing and Ducati enters the 2006 season with realistic optimisim considering the poor shape its race effort was in just over six months ago. At that time the company’s perpetual superbike crown was all but lost and the MotoGP race machine had not yet blossomed in the way it did in the final races of 2005 before a Capirossi injury ended a string of poles, fastest laps and race winning efforts. Now the company’s fortunes are following on from that showing with continued speed and now two riders capable of challenging Valentino Rossi for a win. Troy Bayliss has put the factory superbike back on top after four races in the 2006 championship and the two MotoGP riders have finished first and second in the final official tests prior to the commencement of hostilities. Both riders are fit and fast and the bike is “smoking.” Even better news is that Kawasaki’s big spending is paying off (Nakano was third fastest), Suzuki is running at the front with two good riders and a slew of promising new Honda riders have all showed race leading pace. Everyone is in great shape to attempt the impossible, or at very least highly improbable – beating Valentino Rossi and his Yamaha in what everyone accepts will be his last year of MotoGP. Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards experienced tyre difficulties in the final test, but Rossi clearly has what he needs to continue his winning ways. But the big news on the final day of testing was the pace of the Ducati Desmosedici which put Capirossi and Gibernau ahead of everyone, both on race and qualifying tyres, on the final of the three MotoGP test days. Read More
March 11, 2006 Somewhere between BMW’s superbly comfortable K1200LT we dubbed “the mothership” and the sporting K1200RS is the K1200GT, a much lighter, more nimble but superbly equipped motorcycle designed to gobble miles at a brisk rate in true “Gran Turismo” fashion. Introduced in 2003, the 130 hp K1200GT sold very well in a competitive sports touring segment numbering Yamaha’s FJR 1300, Ducati’s ST4, Triumph’s Sprint ST, Honda’s ST1300 and Kawasaki’s ZZ-R 1200. But with BMW Motorrad shooting for a sportier sexier image and the dynamic 167 hp K1200 S dna available, it was inevitable that a replacement model would eventuate. The new massively revised GT hits European dealerships later this month with an impressive set of figures – 17% more power, 11% more torque, 6% less weight, 19% more payload and a 17% longer cruising range, BMW’s Duolever front wheel suspension and Paralever shaft drive to the rear wheel. The sophisticated BMW Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) is available as an optional extra. Standard features include adjustable seat, handlebars, Integral ABS, panniers and windshield. The latter can be electronically adjusted to suit individual preferences. The new model for 2006 combines maximum agility and significantly increased performance with ideal riding ergonomics designed for the longest journeys. Read More
February 26, 2006 Winston Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR rider Sebastien Charpentier started his championship defence in the best fashion possible by winning the first race of the World Supersport Championship at the Losail circuit in Qatar yesterday, scoring pole position, leading every one of the race's 18-laps and setting a new lap record on the way. The Frenchman ran out a five second winner over Kevin Curtain who debuted Yamaha’s ride-by-wire 2006 Yamaha YZF-R6. Perhaps the most promising aspect of the race was that despite the speed of the well-sorted Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR, the new Yamaha was very fast and competitive though it is sill very early in its development. The third generation YZF-R6 looks like it has the goodies to take the race to the dominant Ten Kate team and the talents of Charpentier. Read More
February 26, 2006 The World Superbike and Supersport Championships got underway on Saturday at the Losail circuit in Qatar, and already the indications are that both championships will see a much closer result than last season. Troy Bayliss returned to the Ducati Xerox superbike team after three years in MotoGP, and after the first two races of the year he leads the title with 40 points (two second places) from 2005 Champ Troy Corser’s Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra and James Toseland’s Winston Ten Kate Honda which both scored a win and a fourth place for 38 points. Had it not been for a first race crash by Yamaha Motor Italia rider Noriyuki Haga, who took out Corser’s Suzuki teammateYukio Kagayama with both riders battling for the win, the vastly improved Yamaha might have taken the win. With at least four makes capable of winning, the 13-round, 26-race series looks set for yet another year of spectacular racing. In the Supersports class Yamaha’s ride-by-wire 2006 Yamaha YZF-R6 debuted with a second place and promises a realistic threat to dominant Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR rider Sebastien Charpentier as the season unfolds. Read More
February 23, 2006 Ducati’s ability to make performance motorcycles that are easy to ride is uncanny. It’s original mid-range L-twin, the Pantah 500, was both an ideal learners machine yet the basis for many a sweet-handling racebike. Now the newly announced Ducati 695 represents a unique offering in the world of motorcycles and in the Ducati Monster family in much the same way; it is a motorcycle that is welcoming to novice riders but, at the same time, is capable of delivering a level of performance that can thrill far more advanced riders. While becoming the new entry point to the Monster family, Ducati claims the Monster 695 will transform a motorcyclist into a Ducatista, a member of the Ducatisti tribe of fans whose motorcycle looks, feels and sounds like no other. The Monster 695, a preview of the Model Year 2007, replaces the 620, and is a quantum leap forward in terms of handling, riding pleasure and performance. The potent new 695 cc L-Twin delivers much greater horsepower and torque – the highest output per cc of any Ducati air-cooled engine – while producing smoother and more fluid power, making every twist of the throttle exciting and satisfying. Read More
February 22, 2006 A Suzuki Hayabusa-engined motorcycle – the “Ack Attack” – will attempt to break the 16-year-old FIM land speed record at South Australia’s Lake Gairdner in early March. With conditions at the spiritual home of land speed racing (Bonneville USA) not up to scratch in 2005, Californian-based Mike Akatiff has decided to shoot for the record in Australia, with the initial run planned at first light on March 6. The record attempt will be the highlight of the 2006 Lake Gairdner Speed Trials, which runs from March 6-10. The streamliner, designed by Akatiff and constructed at the Akatiff-owned ACK Technologies (an avionics emporium) in San Jose, is powered by two turbo-charged 1300cc Hayabusa engines producing around 900 horsepower, which are ensconced in chrome moly tubing and a predominantly carbon-fibre skin. Read More