Valentino Rossi got his first taste of Ducati's MotoGP future after trying an early version of the factory's 2012 machine at Jerez on Friday.
The bike (pictured) was seen in full Marlboro race livery and one of the most obvious differences, over the present GP11, is the addition of a large 'slash-cut' exhaust by Rossi's right boot.
The 2012 rules will allow a maximum engine size of 1000cc, compared with 800cc at present, although cylinder bore restrictions will limit ultimate performance and it is not yet confirmed that all manufacturers will chose to use the full 1000cc available.
With the Ducati test team concentrating on developing this year's GP11, Rossi was supported by some of his race team mechanics and engineers for the GP12 test.
The seven time MotoGP world champion took to the circuit a few minutes after 11:00am and did a first run of six laps.
With that outing having been completed with no problems, the work continued apace for the entire day, by the end of which Rossi had turned 50 laps.
“I'm happy,” Rossi said after the test. “I like the GP12. In my opinion, it's more enjoyable, more fun to ride. It was the first time we had it on the track, so we had some work to do, but the engine is nicer.
“It's a lot of fun, and you can do some nice slides. It's the bike we'll ride next year, so it was very important - and also very nice - to be among the first to take it on the track.”
Rossi won all but one of the 990cc MotoGP seasons, from 2002-2006, after which the premier-class made an unpopular switch to 800cc engines.
Ducati is the first team to let its MotoGP race riders try a 2012 bike, with Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden (the 2006 world champion) due to ride the GP12 at Jerez tomorrow (Saturday).