The missing star of Ducati's Wrooom launch event is to make its debut behind closed doors tomorrow. Ducati test rider Franco Battaini and 2011 World Superbike champion Carlos Checa are to take the redesigned GP12 for its first shakedown test at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain tomorrow, under the watchful gaze of team boss Vitto Guareschi. Once the test has been concluded, the new Desmosedicis - freshly assembled by Ducati's team at their Bologna factory last week - will be shipped to Malaysia for the first official MotoGP tests to be held at Sepang, where factory riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi will get their first ride on the bike.
Though the test will be held in private, with little if any information likely to make it out into the public domain, the test will be key to Ducati's 2012 season. Though the bike was not presented at Ducati's launch in the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio, Ducati Corse boss Filippo Prezioso did talk about the bike extensively, explaining to some extent how they had changed the bike based on the data obtained from last year, and especially from the Valencia test with the aluminium twin spar chassis. The engine is thought to have been redesigned, most probably retaining the 90° angle between the cylinder banks, but with the engine rolled back substantially. This change should allow the engine to be moved forward, to move the center of mass of the bike a little, and also allowing a different seating position, something that Valentino Rossi complained about throughout 2011. Changing the engine was something that had long been predicted, despite Preziosi's protestations that the engine layout was not the problem.
The members of the test team will have different priorities: while Franco Battaini will concentrate on checking that everything is working correctly, Carlos Checa will focus on the behavior of the revised bike, GPOne.com reports. Though their input will be useful, the real test of the bike will come at Sepang, starting on January 31st. So though no times will be released from Jerez, the times there will be largely irrelevant. What matters will be the times being posted by Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden in two weeks' time in Malaysia.