Valentino Rossi is to use the new aluminium chassis at Motorland Aragon this weekend, which was first tested last week at Mugello on Ducati's 2012 1000cc machine. The Italian told the press conference at Aragon that the test at Mugello had gone very well, and the new chassis - built by British Moto2 manufacturer FTR - had improved the feeling from the front end of the Ducati. As a consequence, they had decided to use the new chassis at Aragon this weekend, to use it as a development platform for next year.
Rossi told the press conference that the test had gone well. "It was not so bad," Rossi said. "We tried something different in the bike to improve the front feeling, to improve the front turning, and the lap time is not so bad. I was a bit faster than the last time, but especially the feeling is quite good. So we're looking forward," Rossi told the press conference.
The new chassis is not a twin spar, as was previously believed, but merely an aluminium version of the previous chassis, with much longer frame spars (visible in the photos Toby Moody posted on Twitter). "It is not a frame," Rossi explained, "The philosophy of Ducati remains the same, but the front part of the bike is a bit different. It is in aluminium and not in carbon like before." The reason for the switch was to help speed up the process of understanding the bike and finding a good setup, something that Rossi and his crew have struggled with all year. "About the material, it is especially a question of time, because we have to work, to try to understand the bike, and with aluminium, this takes a lot less time compared to the carbon." The change helped, but there was still work left to do, Rossi said. "The feeling improve a bit, it's just a first step, we keep working, and we have to try to come back to fight for the front position."
That is unlikely to happen this weekend, though. Speaking to the Italian press, including GPOne.com, Rossi dampened expectations: "I'm not expecting anything miraculous. The other riders are all in good shape and have their bikes going very well. From last year, it looks like the Ducati can go well here, but we'll have to see tomorrow. We have hope." The only doubt is whether the chassis will also work with the 800cc engine, which has different power characteristics to the larger capacity GP12 tested at Mugello. "We need to see if the new chassis has the same advantages with the 800 that it had with the 1000."
Nicky Hayden was also positive about the new chassis. Even though he had not tested the bike himself, he had been kept in the loop. "[Ducati] kept me informed," Hayden told MotoMatters.com. "I spoke to Filippo [Preziosi] a couple of times, and it seems real positive. They're pretty happy around there. So we'll see how Valentino goes." The overall impression after the test was positive, Hayden said. "They were pretty happy with how the test went. We'll see how it translates on the race weekend, and we'll see how Valentino goes with it." Hayden did not expect to get the new chassis for himself this year, however, as there were not enough parts for the American to use the chassis as well. "I probably won't be getting it this year," Hayden said, adding that it wouldn't be until the Valencia tests that he would get a chance to try the new chassis.