Updated with quotes from Max Biaggi...
Ducati made an early start to its home Italian MotoGP preparations by taking part in a private test session at Mugello on Monday.
Due to the revised rules this season, Ducati has increased testing opportunities relative to its Factory class Honda and Yamaha rivals.
However Monday's track time was effectively a swap for having not taken part in the recent official post-race test at Jerez.
As well as Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, Pramac's Andrea Iannone was also present - while, as previously reported
, former MotoGP star Max Biaggi rode Aprilia's ART.
Dovizioso set a best lap time of 1m 47.9s, which compares with a best race lap of 1m 48.7s set on his way to fifth in last year's Mugello race.
“It's always important to do a test at Mugello before the race, and in any case we had some new set-ups to try,” said Dovizioso, who completed 67 laps. “It was interesting: nothing revolutionary, but in any case these were tests that will be useful for the future bike.
“I set some good times, but when your adversaries are not present, you mustn't give them too much importance. In any case we are quicker than last year. Towards the end of the day I crashed at turn 4 when I lost the front. Luckily I was unharmed, but I feel sorry for the mechanics who will now have to work a bit more this evening, because tomorrow we're all leaving for France.”
Crutchlow's work also included further tests and checks on the braking system of his Desmosedici, after being forced out of the Jerez race due to overheating brake fluid. Pictures released by Ducati (top) show extra front brake cooling ducts on the Englishman's Desmosedici compared with Dovizioso's bike.
Crutchlow completed 55 laps, with a best time of 1m 48.2s.
“Today was a day we had some things to try. I tested something different to my team-mate and to Andrea Iannone, but we went back towards the base setting of the Ducati and it felt a bit more comfortable,” Crutchlow said. “It was a good working day with quite good weather so we are happy to leave here confirming the direction for Le Mans and looking forwards to the weekend.”
Over at Aprilia, planning a Factory MotoGP return in 2016, new racing boss Romano Albesiano explained the purpose of Biaggi's test on the present Open class ART bike:
"Max is an important part of Aprilia's history and a pilot of extraordinary sensitivity that wanted to try our ART on the path that is leading us to the creation of a MotoGP prototype.
"We are pleased to see Max again at the handlebars, he's always a sight for the engineers and racing fans; but this is not [a] test in preparation for a return to the race track. The stepping stones that pave our road are starting to take shape; and I like to think of today's event more as a gathering between two friends."
Accoridng to GPOne.com
, Biaggi - who retired after winning a second WSBK crown with Aprilia in 2012 - set a best lap time in the low 1m 53s. Biaggi hopes to test further on Tuesday, weather permitting.
"The day went pretty well," said Biaggi. "Especially in the afternoon when we were able to do a few laps with continuity. It's always nice to get the race suit on again and get back in the saddle on the ups and downs of the Mugello. I had to deal with the fact that I have been inactive for a while, it took me a couple of laps to get back my bearings and reflexes, but despite being a bit rusty I enjoyed it.
"The feeling on the ART is familiar; it reminded me of the DNA of the [WSBK] RSV4 right from the first few metres. A feeling I remember well and with great pleasure. Let's hope for good weather tomorrow [Tuesday] so we can push a bit more, today we didn't make many changes because we had other objectives".
The Italian Grand Prix starts at the end of this month, with the French MotoGP at Le Mans taking place this weekend.