|Rossi rides the Ducati GP12 at Jerez|
Valentino Rossi took his first laps aboard the Ducati GP12 Friday morning on the Andalusian circuit in Jerez de la Frontera on a day that was sunny and warm (29° air, 41° track; 84° and 106° Fahrenheit, respectively), with the only imperfection being a strong wind. The Italian took to the circuit a few minutes after 11:00 and did a first run of six laps. With that outing having been completed with no problems, the work continued apace for the entire day, by the end of which Valentino had turned 50 laps.
Vittoriano Guareschi, who had worn his riding leathers on Thursday, today looked after Valentino’s test, participating together with Filippo Preziosi in all of the mini-briefings between the various runs. Meanwhile, Franco Battaini carried out a test of the GP11, working with the electronics and chassis settings.
“I’m happy,” Valentino Rossi said after the test. “I like the GP12. In my opinion, it’s more enjoyable, more fun to ride. It was the first time we had it on the track, so we had some work to do, but the engine is nicer. It’s a lot of fun, and you can do some nice slides. It’s the bike we’ll ride next year, so it was very important—and also very nice—to be among the first to take it on the track.”
“We chose to have our factory riders—today Vale, tomorrow Nicky—try the bike beginning with its first test, because we think their feedback is essential for starting us on the right path for the early development,” Filippo Preziosi said. “To be able to work with Vale for a full day is more than any technician could ask. We gathered considerable feedback that we’ll translate into further design and development for next year’s bike. The positive thing is that the technical choices made for the GP12 in the initial planning phase, in 2010—and I’m referring primarily to the engine, which is still a big-bang, and to the rear end—were endorsed by Valentino. This gives us great satisfaction, and we’re optimistic about the work that still remains to be done. We know that our competitors are also working hard and developing their 2012 bikes, but that just makes the challenge better.”
— Nicky Hayden takes his turn
The final day of testing at Jerez de la Frontera didn’t get started until 1:00 p.m., due to unfavorable weather conditions that greeted the Ducati Marlboro Team on its arrival at the circuit. High humidity that bordered on rain made riding on the track impractical until lunchtime, when the sun came out and thoroughly dried the asphalt.
Nicky Hayden was therefore able to try the GP12, just as his teammate had done yesterday, and he quickly made up for lost time, lapping almost continuously until completing 61 laps.
“When I woke up this morning, the sky was really gray and the track was completely wet,” said Nicky Hayden. “I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t think we’d be able to do anything because it wouldn’t have made sense to waste a day testing in those conditions. The situation got better and better though, and after lunch, I was able to put on my leathers. I couldn’t wait to ride, and it was worth the wait. It’s an honor to be able to participate in the first track test of the GP12 because it doesn’t happen very often that you get to ride a bike on the track for the first time: it’s a special feeling. Everything went well, and we didn’t have a single problem: the motor is really nice to use, and I had a lot of fun riding the bike. I hope I gave some useful feedback to Filippo and the boys. I know they’ll be working on this bike while we go back to focusing on the next race, because this season just started.”
“First of all, I’d like to thank everyone at Ducati,” said Filippo Preziosi, “because thanks to their hard work and expertise, it was possible to carry out three days of trouble-free testing and complete nearly a thousand kilometers with the GP12 in its track debut. Having received consistent feedback about the bike from four different riders puts us in a position to efficiently continue the development process, because we can prioritize the work we have left to carry out.”