The return of the 1000cc MotoGP bikes in 2012 is keenly awaited, and testing for the 2012 season is now well underway. Ducati has had two days of testing at Jerez back in April, while Casey Stoner put in two days on the Honda at Jerez earlier this month.
As they did for the switch to 800cc back in 2007, Ducati is getting a lot of work done early, as Valentino Rossi is back on track at Mugello today (Thursday), testing the GP12 again, according to reports at GPOne.com. Rossi's test day will be the third of the eight days testing allowed with contracted (i.e. current MotoGP) riders on the 2012 machine, and as GPOne.com suggests, is a clue that the emphasis for Ducati is very much on being competitive from the start of the 2012 season.
Given the limited resources that the much smaller Ducati has at its disposal, the Borgo Panigale factory simply cannot afford a double-pronged attack on both 2011 and 2012. However, the pressure inside Italy on the Italian dream team of Valentino Rossi and Ducati to win has meant that the factory has been forced to invest heavily in 2011 as well. The factory riders already have a new chassis to use, which they tested at Estoril and raced at Le Mans, and a new engine is waiting once the first engines are rotated out of the six-engine allocation sometime around Silverstone. The focus of Ducati's development work would seem to suggest that the best they can hope for in 2011 is a couple of wins, while the goal of 2012 will be to aim for the championship.
Rossi will also be sharing the track with another new Ducati, GPOne.com also reports. Ducati's new 1200cc Superbike, the replacement for the 1098, is also being put through its paces at the Tuscan track. On board is Danilo Petrucci, the Italian youngster currently campaigning a 1098R in the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup for the Barni Racing team. Thursday is the final day of testing for the new machine - believed to feature an ultra short-stroke engine and an aluminium monocoque subchassis similar to that used on the Desmosedici GP11 and 12 MotoGP machine, though the Superbike uses aluminium instead of carbon fiber used on the MotoGP machine.
The new 1200cc bike is being tested in both Superbike and Superstock specification, to assess its competitive for next year, and the test is being overseen by Ernesto Marinelli, former factory Ducati Wold Superbike engineer, currently crew chief for Carlos Checa in the putatively privateer Althea Ducati squad. But while preparations continue for the racing machines, the as-yet-unnamed road bike that is to form the basis of Ducati's 1200 WSBK machine, has still not seen daylight, currently still undergoing tests on Ducati's dynos in Bologna.