The weather finally smiled on Ducati's testing efforts on Thursday, providing a full day of testing under excellent conditions. After parts of the first two days were lost to rain and a wet track, the sun shone all day Thursday, with the track being too hot, if anything. Though the post-test press release is as free of detailed information as ever, the positive vibe that came through in both the press release and in the responses from various sources at the test is evident. Lap times were not made public, but according to GPOne.com, Valentino Rossi ran a 1'48.62 and Nicky Hayden posted a 1'48.84, on what Troy Bayliss - also there, testing the Panigale Superbike - described as a slow track due to the temperature. That is close to the fastest lap set by Jorge Lorenzo at last year's race on the 800cc Yamaha, but a long way off the 1'47.326 set by Casey Stoner on the 1000cc Honda at the test after last year's race at Mugello.
Both Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi got through quite a lot of work. A number of items were tested, including an aluminium swingarm, the slightly modified engine, changed to make the power delivery more smooth, as well as a revised electronics package. Sources close to Ducati indicate that the biggest change may well not be the motor, but rather the electronics. The system is now much more similar to the system used by Yamaha and Honda, it is said, the strategy changing from cutting the ignition to cut power to cutting the injection of fuel. Though that is a more complicated strategy to master, it does provide for a much smoother response to the throttle, exactly what both Ducati men have been asking for. Nicky Hayden is said to be particularly positive about the new electronics. For more details on what has been tested at Mugello, see this analysis (in Italian) by Manziana on MotoCorse.com.
The biggest change to the testing procedure itself was that Valentino Rossi's entire crew was present, including crew chief Jeremy Burgess. This is the first test that Burgess has ever been to, outside of the official tests at Sepang and Jerez, and is a sign that Rossi's crew is now working more closely with Ducati Corse in Bologna than they have done before. On his Twitter page, mechanic Alex Briggs was most enthusiastic about the base setup that Rossi and his team have been using since Estoril, with the bike easy to work with and Rossi comfortable with the machine straight off the bat. This is now the third track at which the set up has worked, Briggs posted, and that in itself is a big step forward.
The new parts being tested will not be used in the next round of MotoGP at Barcelona, but will be tested again at the test on the day after Barcelona, and then after that at Aragon later in the week. They will probably first see the light at Silverstone, when Ducati is due to introduce the next engines from their allocated 6 per season.
Below is the official press release issued after Ducati's test at Mugello:
Ducati Team completes test at Mugello
The sun was out for the second and final day of a test at Mugello for the two Ducati Team riders, allowing them both to work hard the entire day, with just one break when the temperature was highest. Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden turned 76 and 81 laps, respectively, trying different configurations of the engine, electronics and chassis, among which was a new aluminum swingarm.
The next test for the two Ducati Team riders is scheduled for 4 June in Barcelona, the Monday after the next Grand Prix, with another test set for 6 June at Aragon in order to make up the day lost to bad weather inPortugal.
“I’d say it was a very useful test because we were able to gather interesting information on the different areas of the bike for which we had planned a robust test program,” Filippo Preziosi said. “We worked on different configurations of the electronics, engine and chassis, including an aluminum swingarm. Now we want to go to other tracks, which is exactly what we’ll do in Barcelona and Aragon, to test the validity of the solutions we’ve found, in order to understand if we’ve effectively taken a small step in the right direction.”