Just 18 hours after Nicky Hayden returned home after the Japanese round of MotoGP at Motegi, the American got a call from Ducati to turn around and head back to Europe. Hayden had been called up to go test the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 at Jerez, after Valentino Rossi had been forced to pull out of the test. The first-lap crash Rossi suffered at Motegi has aggravated a very old (Assen 1995) injury to the little finger on his left hand, and the pain and swelling has made it too difficult for Rossi to test the bike properly. This will be the eighth and final day of extra testing for the GP12, Ducati now left with just the standard two days of testing after Valencia, and nine days in early 2012, with two three-day tests at Sepang and another three-day test at Jerez, before the 2012 season kicks off in April in Qatar.
Exactly what Hayden will be testing is, as ever, shrouded in mystery. The aluminium twin spar chassis - and the latest paddock rumor is that it is a complete twin spar, with the swingarm mounting on the frame rather than into the engine cases as is the case with the current bike - is ready to be tested, and sources close to Ducati say that Rossi took that bike out at the previous test at Jerez between Aragon and Motegi. When asked about this at Motegi, however, Rossi merely said that they had spent most of their time working on riding position on the Ducati, and altering the weight distribution on the GP12.
The most likely scenario is that Hayden will be testing both the larger aluminium shoebox which Rossi raced at Aragon and Motegi, along with stints on the twin spar to test that chassis against the existing Aragon frame. That, however, remains speculation based on rumor and leaks from insiders. With Ducati having issued a press release about this test, there is a good chance there will be a press release again tomorrow at the end of the test, though the Ducati press office is too experienced to be providing too much detail on the test. The media will have to wait until Phillip Island in 10 days' time to grill Hayden about the test, though even then, the American has proven to be excellent at glossing over the details of the test. One thing is certain: Ducati personnel at all levels will be spending a lot of their time in Australia fobbing off questions from journalists.
The press release from Ducati about the test is shown below:
Left Pinky Injury for Valentino Rossi. Tomorrow Nicky Hayden will test the GP12 at Jerez
Valentino Rossi's fall in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday was not without consequences, although the initial examination suggested otherwise. Due to the severity of the pain and swelling in his left hand, the Italian on Tuesday underwent additional X-rays that revealed a hairline fracture at the arthrodesis of the first and second phalanx (performed following a fall at Assen in 1995) of the pinky finger on his left hand. Rossi's participation in the Australian Grand Prix on October 16 is not in doubt.
Tomorrow, Thursday 6 October, Nicky Hayden will test the GP12 at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, using the last of eight days the team is allowed with the 2012 bike.