In Spain right now, an assembly of Ducati Corse technicians, mechanics, and riders are tucking into bed after completing the first of three days of MotoGP testing at the Spanish track. After failing to debut its new Ducati Desmosedici GP12 at the 2012 Wrooom media event, Ducati Corse is holding some very private tests at Jerez to sort out the GP12 before Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden ride the 1,000cc format machine at the Sepang test at the end of the month. Details about the Desmosedici GP12 have been sparse, though Ducati Corse General Manager Filippo Preziosi did let it be known that the 2012 Desmo was 90% new in its design.
Speculation has been rife as to whether Ducati had narrowed the cylinder angle on its V4 motor, and/or if the motor had been rotated backwards in the chassis. Both solutions would allow for the GP12’s engine to mounted further forward, an issue many believe to be the cause of the Desmosedici’s vague front-end issues. With Preziosi saying on more than one occasion that the basics of Ducati’s V4 engine were not the cause of Ducati’s woes, it comes as no surprise then to hear that Ducati will use a twin-spar aluminum frame instead of its carbon fiber monocoque design.
Starting their testing today at Jerez, it is expected that Ducati Corse will have Franco Battaini and Carlos Checa making sure the GP12 has all of its major glitches ironed out ahead of Malaysia. Battaini will surely be on the side of “making it work” while Checa will spend his time “making it go fast”. With no press allowed at Jerez, details throughout the week will likely be nonexistent, though Ducati Corse might grace us with a press release on Thursday or Friday that outlines in the most vague way possible that the team went around the Circuito de Jerez a number of times with or without positive improvement.
Perhaps more interesting is that Ducati is so late in the game in testing the “90% new” GP12 ahead of the first MotoGP test. An issue not being discussed in the media, in any sort of detail, is what sort of reading this has into the situation at Ducati Corse. Seen spinning its tires in the mud last season, in many ways Ducati’s worst enemy was itself, and the pressure it created to “fix” the GP11 now that it was being raced by Valentino Rossi.
While some doubt Rossi’s invincible status, the Desmosedici surely has its gremlins, and so far the early indication from Ducati is that those problems still have yet to be reeled in on a shorter leash. Hopefully for MotoGP fans, Sepang proves this perception wrong, otherwise it will be another two-manufacturer season for 2012 and the return of the 1,000cc bikes.