Avintia's Hector Barbera dominated the Open class during last week's Sepang MotoGP test.
The Spaniard was quickest of the non-factory riders over all three days, culminating in eighth overall on the timesheets.
Barbera's best lap, one of four under 2m 1s, put him 1.1s behind world champion Marc Marquez's Honda but seven places and 1.3s clear of nearest Open rival Stefan Bradl (Forward Yamaha).
News then emerged that, unlike the Open machines from Honda and Yamaha, Barbera and team-mate Mike di Meglio have a seamless shift gearbox on their 2014-spec Ducatis.
Asked to confirm the technology, which provides faster and smoother gear changes, Avintia told Crash.net
that they have used the gearbox since their Ducati debut at Aragon last season. However “it is not a full seamless, just [when] shifting up from second to sixth gear.”
That means neutral is still in the normal position, between first and second gears.
Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna revealed to a small group of media at Sepang that the latest factory Ducati gearbox is seamless from first to fifth, when changing up or down.
Cost aside, the main difficulty in using a seamless gearbox in the Open class is making it work with the standard software. The Avintia gearbox is either able to operate without any special software changes or, more likely, the necessary update to the Open ECU was made at Ducati's request.
Any team or manufacturer can propose such an update which, if agreed and implemented by Dorna's team of Magneti-Marelli engineers, is then available to everyone in the Open class at the same time.
Due to the specific nature of a seamless shift gearbox, it is likely that new software would be needed to run a Yamaha or Honda seamless in the Open class.
That is very unlikely to happen, but the question of how to incorporate the various seamless-shift gearboxes is one of the obstacles to be overcome for next year's compulsory single ECU system.
Honda was the first to use seamless technology in MotoGP, at the start of 2011. Ducati raced its initial version at Assen that same season, with Yamaha waiting until Misano 2013 for its seamless debut.
Each manufacturer has continued to refine their system, most notably moving neutral to allow for seamless shifts between first and second, then incorporating seamless downshifts as well as upshifts. Honda's gearbox is still regarded as the most advanced.
Suzuki and Aprilia, returning to MotoGP this season, plan to debut seamless gearboxes during the 2015 season.