As announced during the briefing by Ducati Corse chief Filippo Preziosi at Ducati's Wrooom! launch event, the Bologna factory's test team has headed to Jerez to continue work on the modifications made to the Desmosedici GP11 based on the input from Valentino Rossi after the Valencia tests. The list of changes is impressive: different forks, a revised front subframe/chassis with more flex, altered triple clamps, a different swingarm, a different electronics package. Enough to keep test riders Franco Battaini and Vito Guareschi (taking off his team manager's hat to make way for his test rider's helmet) busy for three whole days at Jerez.
No times were released - as is so often the case when the test team rides - and the times set would not be a true reflection of the state of the Ducati, as both Guareschi and Battaini are a tick or so slower than a MotoGP regular, but the press release issued from the test spoke of progress being made. The emphasis is clearly on improving the front end of the Ducati, it's weak point almost from the inception of the 800 project, and Vito Guareschi reported some improvements in that area, while Battaini worked on the electronics. Just how fruitful the work has been will only truly be visible at Sepang, once Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden take to the track again for the first of the official MotoGP test at the beginning of February.
Here's the official Ducati press release:
FIRST DAY OF TESTING AT JEREZ FOR GUARESCHI AND BATTAINI
A three-day Ducati MotoGP development test began today in Spain, at Jerez de la Frontera. Two teams, under the guidance of Technical Director Filippo Preziosi, supported official test rider Franco Battaini and Vittoriano Guareschi, who temporarily replaced his Team Manager duties with those of a rider.
The test is being carried out to speed up the setup work of the Desmosedici GP11 for the two factory Ducati Marlboro Team riders, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, who will take to the track themselves at the Sepang test in the first week of next month (February 1-3).
It was a sunny day, but with high humidity in the morning, as is often the case at the Andalusian circuit, and Guareschi and Battaini were only able to get on the track around midday.
"It was a very productive day," said Vittoriano Guareschi after completing 50 laps, "even though the track's grip was really bad, in part because of the high humidity and in part because the F3 test that took place until yesterday left the asphalt quite dirty. As planned, ‘Batta' (Franco Battaini, 60 laps) and I divided the responsibilities. I worked on the chassis with the goal of improving turn-in, while Franco concentrated on the electronics, including the new anti-wheelie and anti-spin systems that we're testing and adjusting. I think I found a couple of interesting things with set-up that help with the front-end feel. We worked on ride height, seat position, and on many aspects of bike set-up that will help with all of the data-acquisition work that are necessary to be ready for Malaysia, when Vale and Nicky will ask us to change the bike in various ways. It's a refinement process that will proceed for the two days in order to speed up the factory riders' work in Malaysia."