The first of the 2012 MotoGP bikes - the bikes built to conform to the new regulations permitting machines of up to 1000cc - has taken to the track in testing, and with the most famous of names at the helm. Valentino Rossi rode the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 at Jerez today, getting his first laps on Ducati's 2012 MotoGP contender.
Details are limited, but reports at both GPOne.com and Sportmediaset are saying that Rossi took to the track at around 11am under clear skies and warm temperatures, with only strong winds causing any trouble for Rossi. What is clear from the video and photos is that the bike is very similar indeed to the GP11. The rear swingarm and linkage are visibly different, and the lower exhaust is very different to the unit fitted to the GP11. According to Sportmediaset. The times were respectable, but the engineers' main concern was fuel consumption. Though engine capacity is being expanded to a maximum of 1000cc, the bikes will still only have a maximum fuel allowance of 21 liters, exactly the same amount the 800s are allowed.
Sportmediaset also spoke to team boss - and test team leader - Vito Guareschi, who rode the bike in a shakedown test yesterday, just to make sure that everything was working correctly before handing the bike over to Rossi this morning. The bike has more torque, according to Guareschi, and also has a deeper rumble to it. The firing order is still a big bang, just as the 2011 bike is.
The chassis being used is virtually identical to the current chassis fitted to the GP11. This is just a temporary measure, however, as Ducati Corse is working on a new chassis to be built based on the feedback from Rossi and Hayden over the course of 2011.
How fast the bike actually is probably not the most important part of this launch, however. Ducati and the Marlboro Ducati team have leveraged the test into a brilliant marketing opportunity, issuing a video and a series of photos to still the hunger of the fans for news. They also ensured that the GP12 was fully painted up in the team's 2011 livery, giving extra coverage to their sponsors for this year, with logos from TIM and ENEL clearly visible in the photos. Photos we have chosen to display below, helping Ducati's marketing juggernaut on its way.
Here's the video officially released by Ducati:
And photos of the bike, courtesy of Ducati Corse: