"We have plenty of developments and optimisations planned... In Qatar, I'm sure we will have the opportunity to really reveal the new 2017 championship bike."
Those were the words of Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall'Igna, during his opening speech at today's MotoGP team launch in Bologna.
The Italian thus appeared to confirm that the machine on display will prove to be significantly different to the bike that lines up for the opening race in Losail on March 26.
Pressed on his comments after the official launch ceremony had concluded, Dall'Igna admitted:
"For sure the bike will improve a lot during the winter tests, because we have 'something in the pocket'. Nothing absolutely clear, but something that in our intention will improve the bike. Starting from next week [in Sepang] we will try to do this."
The obvious area to keep secret from its rivals is the new fairing - or to be precise, Ducati's solution to the new MotoGP wing ban, as manufacturers try to find a way to retain as much of the lost downforce.
"Nobody has a solution for this, frankly speaking," declared Dall'Igna, who sparked the new era of MotoGP winglets at the start of 2015. "For me the bike will have a step backwards without wings. That is absolutely clear. So everybody is now trying to find the best compromise without wings, but for sure it will not perform like with wings.
"It will depend from track-to-track. For me in Qatar the difference [without wings] will not be so huge, but in some other tracks like Jerez for example the situation will be a lot different from last year."
Pressed on exactly when the Ducati race fairing will be revealed, Dall'Igna confirmed that experiments will be made at the forthcoming tests, but played down anything radical.
"For sure the bike will improve during the next tests, but I think that we will start in Qatar quite close with this fairing," he said.
The new MotoGP rules allow only one fairing and front fender update to be made during the racing season, providing further incentive for manufacturers to keep their ideas under wraps for as long as possible.
Dall'Igna joined Ducati from Aprilia in 2014 with a clear mandate to do whatever it takes to lead the factory out of the MotoGP wilderness.
Having endured a podium-less 2013, results have steadily improved under his command - although the target of a race win took one season longer than anticipated to achieve.
The breakthrough finally came in the form of a perfect one-two at the power-hungry Red Bull Ring in Austria, followed by a second (wet) win at Sepang.
With victories already in place, the signing of triple MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo means the focus now turns to a full title challenge, something Ducati has lacked since the glory days of Casey Stoner.
Lorenzo was able to test the Ducati for two days in November. While the Spaniard provided valuable feedback, Dall'Igna played down the suggestion that special changes will be made to try and accommodate the #99.
"Frankly speaking I don't think we have to change a lot the bike for his style. For sure we have to improve the bike, but not only for him, also Dovizioso. If I give him a bike that is better in the middle of the corner, it will also improve his performance.
"This is our target; improve the bike in the middle of the corner, and we have some ideas. We have to test these ideas during Sepang, Phillip Island and Qatar and after that we will see."
Dall'Igna also stated that the first part of throttle opening "is a problem with our bike."
By Peter McLaren