2008 was an interesting year in the world of motorcycles. But the biggest stories of 2008 have left some big questions for 2009. What’s in store for the New Year? We’ll soon find out. Here are some of the top news stories for 2008.
The Motor Company acquired MV Agusta and its subsidiary Cagiva in July for approximately US$109 million. With the acquisition, Harley-Davidson adds the premium European marque to its organization which already includes the Buell brand. Now that its debts are out of the way, MV Agusta can get started on a clean slate. But it’ll do so without the legendary Massimo Tamburini who announced his retirement. Let’s see what MV Agusta has in store for us in 2009.
A group headed by Roger Edmondson and NASCAR VP Jim France acquired the rights to the AMA’s professional racing properties. DMG set to work and reshaped AMA Pro Racing with new classes and rules including spec fuel and tires. After many decisions and revisions, not to mention negotiations with the manufacturers, they finally settled on the new structure of AMA Road Racing. What will AMA racing look like in 2009? We’ll see when the Daytona 200 will be raced under the lights on March 7.
Troy Bayliss went out with a bang, retiring after capturing his third World Superbike title. Bayliss records 11 wins and 19 podium finishes to win the championship by a 118-point margin over Troy Corser. Ducati honors Bayliss with a limited edition 1098R featuring the special livery used in his final race. Bayliss went out on top with nothing left to prove. Except maybe a one-off shoot-out against MotoGP champ Valentino Rossi. Could we see this dream match-up take place in 2009? Bayliss says it would take a $1.5 million pay cheque for him to take part. Anyone want to start passing around a hat?
With the worldwide economy struggling, “bailout” became one of the key buzzwords for 2008. We thought it referred to banks and auto manufacturers begging the government for money. We didn’t expect it would also mean “bailing out of racing”. Honda shut down its AMA Road Racing operations and Kawasaki is rumored to do the same with MotoGP. What will the racing landscape look like in 2009, with the loss of these factory teams? At least we have World Superbike Championship to look forward to, with the addition of two new factory teams, BMW and Aprilia.
Mat Mladin has been one of the most vocal critics of AMA Pro Racing’s new management and its plans for the future. And why not? After years of dominance in the AMA Superbike series with Suzuki, Edmondson and company suddenly step in and change the playing field. And then, while chasing teammate Ben Spies for the championship, Mladin gets stripped of a pair of victories at Virginia International Raceway for an illegal crankshaft. The two DQs pretty much ended Mladin’s run for the 2008 championship. But what about 2009? Suzuki hasn’t announced its plans for the upcoming AMA season, and the team was conspicuously absent from the winter tire tests. Will they follow Honda and withdraw from competition?