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Archive for March, 2015

Casey Stoner To Race for 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours

27 Mar

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Honda Racing Corporation are pleased to announce Casey Stoner’s return to competition racing. The two-time MotoGP Champion (2007 and 2011) will form part of Honda’s MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO three person team at this year’s Suzuka 8hr race, taking place on Sunday 26th July.

Casey, together with Honda’s World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark and MFJ All Japan Road Race JSB1000 Championship and HRC test rider Takumi Takahashi, will be looking to clinch Honda’s sixth consecutive win in the prestigious endurance event which runs for eight hours consecutively where entrants (composed of two or more riders) alternate during pit stops.

Having recently renewed his testing contract with HRC, Casey tested the Suzuka CBR1000RR machine during January’s Sepang test, reporting positively on the machine to Honda engineers.

Casey will have further opportunities to test the Honda machine on the 7th/8th and 14th/15th July.

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Casey Stoner:

“After riding the bike in Sepang a few months ago, I’ve been speaking closely with Honda about the possibility to take part in Suzuka. It’s always been an event I wanted to do and something I was never able to consider when I was racing in MotoGP, due to our busy schedules, so I’m really looking forward to taking part! The bike is very different to a MotoGP machine, but it will be a new challenge and a chance for me to try something new and unlike what I’ve been used to in my racing to this point. I’ve been impressed with Michael van der Mark this season and Takumi Takahashi has a lot of experience on this machine, so I’m looking forward to hearing their comments and working together with them in preparation for the July race. Now I need to concentrate on my training to be ready for the race!”

Shuhei Nakamoto – HRC Executive Vice President:

“We are very happy that Casey agreed to take part in the 8hr with Honda. It will be great to see him back on a bike in a racing environment and I’m sure he will enjoy it. Together with van der Mark and Takahashi they form a strong team to compete in this endurance race – I’m excited to see how they will do.”

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Michael van der Mark:

“The Suzuka 8 Hour race is such a special event for all the fans and the Japanese people and not many riders get the chance to take part, even though many would like to. I also know what an important event it is for Honda so it’s a greathonorfor me to be asked to race the CBR1000RR once more, and this time with Casey as our teammate! The testing and race schedule is quite tough to combine with the World Superbike Championship but I really enjoy riding at Suzuka so I’m very happy to make time for it. The bike is very different to my World Superbike CBR but it’s easy to ride so it’s not big problem to change. I’ve had two fantastic years with a great team and it would be really nice and something quite special to get a hat-trick of wins.”

Takumi Takahashi:

“The Suzuka 8hr this year means a lot to me and my team since our goal is to win for a third consecutive year, and I’m even more excited to take part together with Casey. Nonetheless, we know our rivals are all set to beat us, so I know it will not be easy to accomplish this goal. I will try to get the best out of the remaining few tests so that we will be able to run the 8hr race as fast as possible without any mistakes. We guarantee to demonstrate our extreme professionalism and excitement to those who will come to Suzuka to support us!”

HRC-Takahashi

 
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FIRST RIDE: Kawasaki Vulcan S 650 via MPI Event

24 Mar

The motorcycling media had gathered at the Lost World of Tambun resort in Ipoh for Kawasaki Motors Malaysia’s (KMM) second ever Malaysian Press Introduction (MPI) event, which was for the reintroduction of the Kawasaki Vulcan S 650 cruiser motorcycle, which had been unveiled in the country last November during the company’s 25th anniversary celebration dinner for the media and dealers.

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The MPI consisted of a convoy ride for members of the media as well as Kawasaki’s GT World and CKD dealers. More than 30 units of the Vulcan S were made available for the test ride but there were only 25 media members while the dealers numbered 35 on the following day.

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MPI-2The media convoy ride was flagged off from the Lost World resort from 9am this morning by KMM’s director and general manager Jeffrey Lim. The first stage of the convoy’s routes took us through Ipoh’s mild traffic congestion on the outskirts towards Gopeng town and straight to Kellie’s Castle for a photo session. It was a slow ride to Kellie’s as the marshals wanted the moto media to have a feel of the Vulcan S prior to increasing the pace of the convoy.

From the castle, the convoy resumed the ride towards Seri Iskandar and Parit, which we had a “pit-stop” for approximately 45 minutes. Then we resumed our ride to Kuala Kangsar for another photo session at the Royal Museum. From the Royal Museum, we rode passed Sauk to Tasik Raban for lunch. After lunch, we proceed to Sungai Siput, Chemor and Tanjung Rambutan prior to arriving back at the Lost World resort, which was the finishing point for the convoy ride. The stretch from Kuala Kangsar towards Tasik Raban as well as Sungai Siput and Tanjung Rambutan were a combination of straights, multiple S-curves and slight bumpy sections.

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Amazingly, the Vulcan S 650 was able to negotiate those routes in a steady manner, without any over- or understeer tendency. The bike that was loaned to me remained in its Mid Reach configuration, and everything about it was at default settings all the way, down to the shock absorber calibration. It was definitely fun and exciting riding the Vulcan S within its cruising speeds of between 110 and 140km/h, and the convoy did go as high as 180km/h between Sauk and Tasik Raban.

The Vulcan S 650’s Ergo Fit feature is unique in the sense that Kawasaki has designed it to be custom-tailored to fit the height of the rider/owner, so regardless of one is short, intermediate or tall, this cruiser bike can have its handlebar, front footpegs and the seat to be adjustable to suit the size of the rider. There are 3 selections available, the afore-mentioned Mid-ReachReduced Reach and Extended Reach.

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The Ergo-Fit Mid Reach (standard) is designed for riders 5’7” to 6’1; while Extended Reach is for riders 6’1” or taller; and Reduced Reach is meant for riders 5’6” and under. And you can do some mixing and matching, too. Kawasaki gives you the choice between two different handlebars and one of three seats, and can reposition the footpegs to your preference.

When it comes to the handlebars, there is a standard bar and one that brings it one inch closer to the rider for Reduced Reach configuration. The three seats come in different lengths/contours, and the footpegs can be positioned either 3cm forward or rearward from the factory position. The forward position requires a longer shift rod. The Vulcan seat height is a very low 705mm, and that number remains that way regardless of which seat configuration you chose.

However, unlike in North America, adjusting the Vulcan S 650 for its Reduced or Extended Reach carries an optional charge in Malaysia. But potential buyers have the option to try out the bike with its 3 adjustment settings at selected GT World outlets prior to making the final decision. The Vulcan S 650 also has a number of optional Kawasaki original accessories that can be fitted to it.

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Unlike the usual typical V-twin-powered cruiser, the Vulcan S is powered by a 649cc parallel-twin motor, which is the same unit available in the sporty Versys and Ninja 650 but retuned for smoother riding and midrange torque.

The Vulcan S is a very easy motorcycle to ride as the engine, which features revised cam profiles, modified intake tract, ECU and exhaust, is ultra rider-friendly, offering sufficient bottom-end for smooth take-offs and impressive midrange and top-end performance. Kawasaki also added crankcase mass, making it nearly impossible for the rider to stall the engine while launching it from a stop position.

 
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Z250 Street Fighter: Sunday Ride to Ulu Yam/Bukit Tinggi

15 Mar

Today is the Z250’s third official outing on a group ride, and the second version held on a Sunday. Today’s ride is with the same group from Sungai Long/Balakong which did the evening Chinese New Year (CNY) ride recently.

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While the CNY ride was during night fall and along the highway, today’s ride was accomplished on old twisty roads, reducing the gap between the acceleration/top speed disadvantages of the Z250 against the 650, 750 and 1,000cc superbikes in the group.

In some segments, the Z250 was faster than all the other bikes, leading by at least 400m at the later stages of the twisty roads before slowing to enable the rest to catch up. The wide gap could be due in part of the other riders having “lacked the stamina of riding faster right after lunch” syndrome as they were quite fast in the morning while on the way to breakfast at Goh Tong Jaya.

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Today’s ride started from the Petron station in Jalan Kuching, from where the group rode to Batu Dam via twisty Jalan Sungai Tua. From the dam, we proceed towards Ulu Yam Baru via the steep twisty road up to Goh Tong Jaya for breakfast. After breakfast, we rode down to Karak highway to get to Bukit Tinggi Resort for a short stop-over and admiring the view there.

Lunch was served at a seafood restaurant deep inside Kampung Bukit Tinggi area. After lunch, we resumed our ride back to Kuala Lumpur via the old twisty road of Jalan Gombak, all the way till the MRR2 interchange where the group departed for home, 1 half towards Petaling Jaya and Klang while the rest went towards Cheras, Balakong/Sg Long areas.

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Shell Asia Talent Cup 2015 Takes Off

12 Mar

Motorcycle riders take part in races to win them. As such, not many are used to addressing the crowd, media and sponsors as the experience can be overwhelming, to say the least. Some of the MotoGP riders have the tendency to avoid interacting with the fans and the compulsory media conference if they could, among them being former double world champion Australian Casey Stoner as well as the likes of Spaniard Dani Pedrosa and Briton Cal Crutchlow.

That was the atmosphere that greeted newcomer Azroy Anuar, 16, who will join four existing and young Malaysian riders comprising of Adam Norrodin, 16; Fakhrusy Syakirin Rostam, 18; Helmi Azman, 15 and Shafiq Rasol, 18, for the 2015 Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup (SAATC). They were too shy to answer any of the questions asked of them by the event’s host, Stephinie Tan.

The Malaysian riders will be among the 22 riders from across Asia and Australia competing for honours in the prestigious 2015 season of the SAATC championship, which made its debut last year.

According to Adam, who had competed in the inaugural 2014 season: “I am excited to return and represent Malaysia at the Shell Advance Asia Talent Cup this year. I have learned a lot from my previous races and look forward to applying the lessons learned on the track. I hope to improve my performance even more and further pursue my passion in competitive motorcycle racing. I’m thankful for this opportunity once again.”

The SAATC is a competition that promotes the best young talent from world of motorcycle racing, giving them a formal path into competitive road racing. The Cup is led in part by renowned and successful talent scout Alberto Puig, the legendary Spanish ex-500c racer who was also responsible for developing talents as Australian Casey Stoner and Spaniard Dani Pedrosa. Puig, who last worked as the mentor for Pedrosa in the championship-winning Repsol-Honda squad, is also the leader of the successful MotoGP Academy, had hand-picked all the 22 riders to compete in the 2015 season for over six rounds, starting in Thailand on March 22, Qatar on March 29, Malaysia on August 2, China from September 20, Japan from October 11 and back to Sepang in Malaysia on October 25 in conjunction with the 2015 Malaysian MotoGP round.

This year, Japan will be represented by seven riders. Indonesia and Thailand will have three riders each while China has two. Australia and Philippines will be represented by one rider each.

Riders will race on Honda NSF250R Moto3 bikes powered by Shell V-Power racing fuel and lubricated with the new Shell Advance Ultra with PurePlus Technology fully synthetic motorcycle engine oil.  Shell PurePlus Technology is a revolutionary gas-to-liquid (GTL) process that converts natural gas into crystal-clear base oil with virtually none of the impurities found in crude oil. GTL base oil delivers higher levels of cleansing and superior wear and corrosion protection.

Troy Chapman, who is the Shell Lubricants Cluster General Manager for Southeast Asia told the motorsports media that the company, whose fuel and lubricants had been at the forefront of international motorcycle racing for years, was delighted to leverage its technological leadership and work closely with other sponsors to provide a formal path into competitive motorcycle racing for aspiring young Asian riders.

“Shell Advance is honoured to support the second year of this exciting championship. For the many budding talents across Asia, SAATC is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to train and race at a very competitive and professional level under expert guidance.  We are committed to helping them make clean and winning starts at every race and turn their potential into performance,” said Chapman.

 
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Sunday Ride to Titi Kong w/Kawasaki Z250 Street Fighter

08 Mar

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Photo by Kenny Lee/Bikers Adventure Group

It’s one of those Sundays where there’s no major events happening, and nothing exciting to be photographed with my trusted EOS 700D so the next best thing is to ride to another town just for breakfast with a coupe of riding buddies from Bikers Adventure Group aka BAGsters.

For today’s ride,  Bagsters’ chief Kenny Lee informed us it would be to Titi Kong via the twisty loop, and on which way to ride back to Kuala Lumpur thereafter would be decided once we had our breakfast there. The other riders are Sam Ngeow and Jason Lee.

All of us had wan tan mee for breakfast, they opted for the dry type while me went for the soup version. The town itself is famous for its wan tan mee – almost every coffeeshop there has a stall specialising in it. But the main product the town is famous for is its sweet pineapple.

After breakfast, it was decided we would be riding back to Kuala Lumpur via the same way we came by – the twisty loop between Hulu Langat town and Titi Kong.

 
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Suzuki Unveils Its ECSTAR MotoGP Team In Japan

06 Mar

Suzuki MotoGP

Suzuki Motor Corporation has unveiled its MotoGP team name as Team SUZUKI ECSTAR. Suzuki will come back to the MotoGP class of the world’s top motorcycle racing series, the FIM Road Racing Grand Prix, from 2015. The 2015 season will start from the Qatar GP, which will hold its race on March 29, 2015.

Team Suzuki ECSTAR will participate with the new racing machine GSX-RR, which is installed with the newly-developed in-line four-cylinder engine. The team’s two riders are Spaniards Aleix Espargaro, who was ranked seventh in the MotoGP class last season, and Maverick Vinales, who has stepped up from the Moto2 class, will compete aboard the GSX-RR.

Suzuki Duo_GSX-RR

Suzuki’s Director and Senior Managing Officer Eiji Mochizuki said: “Finally, Suzuki will make a comeback to the MotoGP, the world’s top motorcycle racing series. Through high-level competition, we will sharpen up our technologies, and aggressively feed them back to our production models and interact with Suzuki customers all over the world. Suzuki will challenge to improve satisfaction of customers all over the world to a higher level, through racing and our products. We ask our fans to support the Team Suzuki ECSTAR.”

ECSTAR is the brand name of Suzuki’s genuine high-performance engine oil, which has been on sale since 1984. It has been sold mainly in Japan and exported from Japan.

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In the occasion of the ECSTAR brand’s 30th anniversary and Suzuki’s participation in the MotoGP, Suzuki will seek to increase global recognition of the ECSTAR brand by establishing the ECSTAR brand as the global umbrella brand of Suzuki genuine oil/ chemical products, and making it the MotoGP team name. Starting from Europe, the ECSTAR brand will be offered to overseas distributors as a high-quality, dependable brand.

Suzuki GSX-RR

GSX-RR spec:

Overall length x width x height: 2,096mm x 720mm x 1,140mm.
Wheelbase: 1,457mm .
Engine type: Water-cooled, four-stroke in-line four-cylinder, DOHC four-valve.
Displacement: 1,000cm3.
Maximum output: Over 169kw (230PS).
Maximum speed: Over 330km/h .
Gearbox: Six-speed (cassette type).
Frame type: Twin-spar aluminum.
Tyres (front/ rear): 16.5in/16.5in .
Front suspension: Öhlins, inverted fork.
Rear suspension: Öhlins.
Brake (front/ rear): Carbon disk/ steel disk, Brembo.

 
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Dainese D-Store Opening by JR Apparels Sdn Bhd

06 Mar

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JR Apparels Sdn Bhd, the official importer and distributor of Dainese leather suits and riding apparel for motorcyclists, have officiated their new Dainese D-Store located at Glenmarie Temasya area, complete with a lion dance and Chinese New Year (CNY) goodies.

Although the 15-day CNY celebration had ended a day before, nevertheless the atmosphere is still very much revered throughout the opening ceremony, with two lion dances performing the customary blessing for the new outlet.

The new D-Store has a build-up of 2,200 square meter in a 3-storey commercial lot that is fully owned by JR Apparels, which is a stark contrast to its previous store in Taman Tun Dr Ismail which was rented. The new D-Store has approximately RM1million worth of Dainese riding apparels and merchandise in stock.

The Dainese D-store opens from 10.30am to 7.30pm Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday and national/Selangor state public holidays.

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Aprilia Unveils Its 2015 Livery for MotoGP

05 Mar

Aprilia RS-GP

The above photo is of Aprilia MotoGP’s 2015 livery, unveiled to the European media as well as MotoGP.com today. Aprilia is making its factory return to MotoGP this season, with riders Italian Marco Melandri and Spaniard Alvaro Bautista.

The Aprilia machine used by the factory is known as the RS-GP, and is based on the winning bike of the former CRT category with its RSV4-based ART with then rider Aleix Espargaro, who is now riding for the factory Suzuki MotoGP team.

Aprilia has joined forces with the Gresini team and brought forward its official MotoGP return by one season. It was originally scheduled to make a return to premier class racing from the 2016 season but the factory feels it should take advantage by returning earlier to prepare itself for next season where standard Dorna-supplied ECU and software are compulsory for all teams by then.

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Melandri and Bautista will race an upgraded version of the RS-GP, when the 2015 season kicks off in Losail in Qatar on March 29. The new Aprilia bike already has a pneumatic valve engine, with a seamless gearbox next on the list. Both riders have tested early prototypes of the RS-GP at Valencia last November and during last month’s MotoGP Winter Tests held at Sepang circuit.

Aprilia have used a red and black livery during 2015 testing, adding the silver and white similar to its WSBK machines for today’s launch. The testing livery also featured a large Aprilia logo on the side of the fairings but the silver and white space race design suggests Aprilia are hoping for a title sponsor to step for the start of the season.

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Petronas AAM Cub Prix Championship 2015 Launched

05 Mar

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It is rumoured that spectators’ interest in the 22-year long Cub Prix Championship is starting to wane off despite record attendance in most of the rounds held throughout 2014. In order to ensure the said rumour won’t be a reality, the organisers of the annual Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix Championship has embarked on a contest for spectators for each of the 10 races to be held for the 2015 season.

The prizes up for grabs are 2 units of Yamaha’s Lagenda kapchai for each race weekend. This was announced by the organisers during the launch event of the 2015 championship, which was attended by the teams with their riders and the various sponsors/partners. Details for the contest will be announced during the weekend of the first race, to be held in Temerloh, Pahang from March 14-15.

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Its promotion director, Sam Hogg had revealed several key areas of improvement for the 2015 championship, among them is the rules for the premiere CP130 Open Class to allow for up to 3 riders per team, with the results of the best 2 riders being taken into account for the Team Award standings.

In the past, the Team Awards had been tabulated based on the results of only 2 nominate riders per team which means that each CP130 team this year will feature a 3-,am line-up, providing additional impetus for them to graduate their talented young rookies to the premiere class as soon as possible.

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Additionally, with the agreement from all the teams, the prize money in the CP130 Class will be paid to the Top 10 riders of each CP130 Final compared to just the Top 8 in previous years. In addition, a new and improved version of the Klinik Cub Prix helmed by former Malaysian 250cc rider, Shahrol Yuzy as well as several other prominent Cub Prix riders, will be introduced too.

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The dates for the 2015 Petronas AAM Cub Prix Championship are:

1 Round 1 March 14-15 Temerloh, Pahang
2 Round 2 April 11-12 Batu Kawan, Penang
3 Round 3 May 1-2 Muar, Johor*
4 Round 4 May 22-23 K. Terengganu
5 Round 5 June 13-14 Melaka
6 Round 6 August 15-16 TBC**
7 Round 7 September 19-20 Teluk Intan, Perak
8 Round 8 October 17-18 Kangar, Perlis
9 Round 9 October 31-Nov 1 Jempol, N. Sembilan
10 Round 10 November 28-29 Taiping, Perak

*Saturday Race
**Venue to be confirmed

 
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1st Official Outing with the Kawasaki Z250 Street Fighter

04 Mar

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Collected the Z250 Street Fighter motorcycle from local importer, Kawasaki Motors Malaysia a day ago and took it for a spin to re-familiarise myself with the machine after a long period of riding bigger capacity types.

Manage to clock close to 90 km of mileage within the next 24 hours since the bike is with me but it was only later this evening that I could ride it in a group outing with fellow bikers. We were invited to an Open House party in conjunction with the on-going Chinese New Year (CNY) of the Ram 2015, which is into the 14th day, with only a day left of the annual festival.

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The entire group consists of bikers riding their 650cc, 800c, 1,000cc and 1,200cc machines, with me the only one astride a 250cc bike. However, for the most parts, the Z250 Street Fighter is an acclaimed performer, with its twin-cylinder engine producing the acceleration required to keep up with the bigger bikes. Okay, it is not designed to be on par with such machines but the ability to keep up with them at the suburbs and town areas is good enough when participating in a group ride.

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It has a top speed of 170km/hr – adequate to keep those bigger bikes within sight of me, and at times, even overtaking some of them when the riders either miss a gear or brake too soon approaching a corner. On the way to the Open House, there was light drizzle since we left the RV Point at the Petron station in Jalan Kuching.

Visibility was a bit down with our visors been sprayed by water mist from the backlash of most vehicles in front of us, at the same time we had to be careful with some over-cautious cars, lorries, taxis and kapchai riders who tend to slow down without warning or drifting left to right aimlessly.

Nevertheless, the drizzle soon stopped the closer we were towards the Open House venue, which is located in Taman Rahman Putra, an upmarket residential neighbourhood within the Sungai Buloh industrial zone, and the ride was quite an enjoyable outing with the group of bikers.

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