Following Ducati's high-profile debut of its 2012 MotoGP racer, in the hands of factory stars Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden in a test at Jerez on April 8-9, Honda has given its own 1000cc prototype a more low-key shakedown.
Few details are known, but motogp.com reports that HRC test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi and former 500cc race winner Tady Okada steered the as-yet-unnamed machine during a private test at the Suzuka Circuit on April 14-15.
It is not yet clear when Honda will let its MotoGP riders try the bike, but Yamaha stars Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies are set to make their debut on the 2012 M1 in a test straight after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello in early July.
Suzuki's 2012 racing plans are not yet known and, having cut back to just one bike for this season, it is far from guaranteed that they will decide to participate in the new era.
Although the maximum engine capacity for 2012 will be 1000cc, compared to the present 800cc, it remains to be seen if all factories will chose to use the full capacity due to the limit on cylinder-bore size. This has been introduced to force the use of longer-stroke engines, which rev less.
A new breed of independent 'Claiming Rule Teams' will also be created to try and boost grid numbers for 2012. The CRTs will enjoy fuel tank capacity and engine-change concessions relative to the factory teams.
Any new manufacturer entering the MotoGP class and not being selected as a Claiming Rule Team (for example BMW or Aprilia) will be allowed to use 9 engines instead of 6 for their first season.