Ducati has announced that it will switch much of its focus to the 2012 MotoGP World Championship with the unveiling of an GP12-inspired version of the GP11 for Assen, labelled the GP11.1.
The culmination of a design process that began during the Sepang tests, the result is something of a hybrid between the current GP11 and next year's GP12, with Ducati applying a series of chassis changes designed to give them a headstart on the competition.
A press release from the Italian manufacturer confirmed the introduction of a new gearbox, the DST (Ducati Seamless Transmission), which has been inspired by a similar system used by series leaders Honda.
“For the GP11.1, the Corse Department prepared an 800cc engine that installs in the chassis that Ducati engineers are developing for 2012,” the press release stated. “The bike will also use a new gearbox, the “DST- Ducati Seamless Transmission”, the design process for which began in 2010.
“Nicky Hayden, who has already used four engines this season, will use a GP11 equipped with the step-2 frame, whose stiffness has been further modified compared to the step-1 version that was introduced at the Estoril test. According to the engine-rotation schedule, he will ride the GP11.1 at Laguna Seca.”
For technical director Filippo Prezioso, the decision to bring the GP11.1 to Assen is an attempt to improve its current results, whilst using it as a platform to develop for next season. However, he admits the fact Valentino Rossi is yet to ride this iteration of the bike means results may not be instantaneous.
“We decided to make the GP11.1, which is an 800cc engine in a GP12 chassis, in order to accelerate development on next year's bike, and also to provide our riders with a potentially better base for the current championship.
“Considering that Valentino still hasn't ever ridden the GP11.1, this decision could require some races for the team to completely take advantage of its potential, but we decided to move forward with it because we believe it's an important step for our development process.
“The next-generation gearbox, on the other hand, is a solution that we think will be an immediate improvement. The Ducati Corse Department will continue studying further innovations, both for this year and for 2012. At the same time, we have developed an additional step for the frame for Nicky, and he'll receive the GP11.1 at Laguna Seca.”