Valentino Rossi got his first taste of Ducati's MotoGP future after trying an early version of the factory's 2012 machine at Jerez on Friday.

The bike (pictured) was seen in full Marlboro race livery and one of the most obvious differences, over the present GP11, is the addition of a large 'slash-cut' exhaust by Rossi's right boot.

The 2012 rules will allow a maximum engine size of 1000cc, compared with 800cc at present, although cylinder bore restrictions will limit ultimate performance and it is not yet confirmed that all manufacturers will chose to use the full 1000cc available.

With the Ducati test team concentrating on developing this year's GP11, Rossi was supported by some of his race team mechanics and engineers for the GP12 test.

The seven time MotoGP world champion took to the circuit a few minutes after 11:00am and did a first run of six laps.

With that outing having been completed with no problems, the work continued apace for the entire day, by the end of which Rossi had turned 50 laps.

"I'm happy," Rossi said after the test. "I like the GP12. In my opinion, it's more enjoyable, more fun to ride. It was the first time we had it on the track, so we had some work to do, but the engine is nicer.

"It's a lot of fun, and you can do some nice slides. It's the bike we'll ride next year, so it was very important - and also very nice - to be among the first to take it on the track."

Rossi won all but one of the 990cc MotoGP seasons, from 2002-2006, after which the premier-class made an unpopular switch to 800cc engines.

Ducati is the first team to let its MotoGP race riders try a 2012 bike, with Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden (the 2006 world champion) due to ride the GP12 at Jerez tomorrow (Saturday).

"We chose to have our factory riders - today Vale, tomorrow Nicky - try the bike beginning with its first test, because we think their feedback is essential for starting us on the right path for the early development," said Ducati technical boss Filippo Preziosi.

"To be able to work with Vale for a full day is more than any technician could ask. We gathered considerable feedback that we'll translate into further design and development for next year's bike.

"The positive thing is that the technical choices made for the GP12 in the initial planning phase, in 2010 - and I'm referring primarily to the engine, which is still a big-bang, and to the rear end - were endorsed by Valentino.

"This gives us great satisfaction, and we're optimistic about the work that still remains to be done. We know that our competitors are also working hard and developing their 2012 bikes, but that just makes the challenge better."

Hayden gave Ducati its first podium of the year at last Sunday's wet Spanish MotoGP, when Rossi crashed out while overtaking Casey Stoner for second place early in the race.

While Rossi tried the GP12 today, test rider Franco Battaini lapped with the GP11, working on electronics and chassis settings.

In-season MotoGP testing for race riders on machines 'eligible' for MotoGP is only allowed at official tests, following the Portuguese and Czech Republic rounds.

However there is nothing in the rules covering the testing of 'ineligible' (future) MotoGP bikes, built to meet a different set of technical regulations.

The first of the 1000cc Japanese bikes is expected to be ridden in public after the Italian MotoGP at Mugello.



Loading Comments...