Anyone wondering when the first of the 2012 MotoGP bikes would make their first public (or almost public) appearance finally has their answer: Today. On Thursday, Ducati Corse's test team - consisting of test rider Franco Battaini and Vito Guareschi - took the GP12 out for a shakedown test prior to handing the bike over to the Marlboro Ducati factory riders, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Rossi is due to put his first laps on the GP12 on Friday, while Hayden will take the new bike out for a spin on Saturday.
Normally, all testing by contracted riders - that is, riders who are currently participating in the MotoGP class - is banned under the regulations, outside of the official tests after the Estoril and Brno MotoGP rounds. However, the rules also make one exception: Rule 1.15.11 allows for "any activity authorized by Race Direction." With the capacity changing for 2012, a gentlemen's agreement almost certainly exists between the factories to allow the factory riders to test the 1000cc bikes outside of the regular schedule. An extra test for the 1000cc bikes has already been planned for the day after the Mugello MotoGP race, but it is conceivable all of the factories will schedule extra tests with their factory riders.
While Rossi and Hayden are testing the GP12, Battaini and Guareschi will be continuing work on the GP11 at Jerez. Images and a press release are expected to be issued after the test, and the test is likely to be held behind closed doors. No doubt brave and wily locals will be sneaking through the undergrowth to get their first glimpse of Ducati's 2012 machine.
VALENTINO ROSSI AND NICKY HAYDEN TEST THE DUCATI GP12 AT JEREZ
Having carried out the first “shakedown” at Jerez de la Frontera today with positive results, Franco Battaini and Vittoriano Guareschi tomorrow will leave the bike in the hands of Ducati Marlboro Team factory rider Valentino Rossi, who returns to the Andalusian circuit five days after having competed there in the Spanish Grand Prix. Saturday will be the turn of Rossi’s teammate, Nicky Hayden, who returns to Spain following a promotional appearance in Germany.
While the development of the GP11 proceeds at full speed according to the directions of the Test Team and Battaini, Rossi and Hayden will be supported by a structure comprising engineers and mechanics from the factory team, with Technical Director Filippo Preziosi overseeing the operation as usual.