Ducati will take the first step towards toning down the radical design of its Desmosedici MotoGP machine, when Valentino Rossi swaps carbon fibre for an aluminium front-section during this weekend's Aragon round.
The seven-time MotoGP champion, who is sixth in the world championship with just one podium from his 13 races for Ducati, will have one bike fitted with aluminium after a positive test with the material on the 2012 bike at Mugello last week.
But Rossi made clear that Ducati isn't abandoning its stressed-member concept, which sees the engine used as part of the frame.
“It's not [an aluminium] frame," Rossi clarified. "The [stressed engine] philosophy of Ducati remains the same. The front part of the bike is a bit different and is aluminium and not carbon fibre like it was before."
The Doctor claimed that the change has been made in order to speed up development of the GP11, since aluminium can be modified more quickly.
"It's a question of time with regards to the material," he said. "We have to work, to try to understand, and with aluminium we need a lot less time than the carbon."
That opens the door for a potential carbon fibre return, once the correct flex has been identified using the aluminium, but after such a tough season many doubt that Rossi will want to change back.
"It's just the first step, we'll keep working and we'll try to come back and fight for the front positions," Rossi added.
Ducati took a low-tech frame approach for its race-winning 2003 debut MotoGP season, utilising the same kind of steel trellis design used in its Superbikes, but has made a series of big changes since.
First the Ducati engine became 'stressed' and by 2009 the Desmosedici was using carbon fibre for both the front airbox section and rear swingarm.