For the 2012 season, MotoGP will be reverting back to its 1,000cc format (actually, it used to be 990cc, but what’s ten cubic centimeters among friends?). While many MotoGP fans have been awaiting the day that the “big bikes” would return to premier racing with their powersliding, rider chewing, wheelie popping ways, it’s hard to get excited when the first two races of the last 800cc season have been so eventful. Nevertheless the die has been cast, and this week should be begin our first glimpse into these two-wheeled monsters.
First on the list is Ducati Corse, which could debut its Desmosedici GP12 as early as at a private test later this week in Jerez. With the MotoGP rules seemingly barring factory riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden from riding the bike, testing duties will fall to Ducati’s test rider Franco Battaini and Ducati Corse Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi, an accomplished rider in his own right. With three days at the circuit starting this Thursday, Ducati Corse is expected to not only try out an early version of the GP12, but also test parts for the Desmosedici GP11 currently being used by its riders.
According to Ducati Corse, the team has reached the end of what it can do in terms of setup to solve the problems of the GP11, and now require new parts to make further improvements for season. Amongst the items being tested are a new motor that has a revised firing order and heavier crankshaft. Also expected is a new carbon fiber frame, which hopefully will solve the understeer that is prevalent in the Desmosedici GP11 (although the motor could just as easily be to blame for some of the problems the GP11 has had).
Less definitive on its testing schedule is HRC, which was supposed to have its next-generation motorcycle on the track before the season-opening Qatar GP. With the earthquake and tsunami damaging the Motegi circuit, HRC was unable to run at the track, and couldn’t go to other venues because of the fuel shortage. With fuel once again be distributed in Japan, HRC hopes to be on the track soon with its 1,000cc machine, perhaps even in time for the July testing session at Mugello. Meanwhile the team has been testing the bike on the dyno, and likely taking feedback from riders on how to further improve upon its new quick-shifting gearbox.
In the Yamaha camp, things are already on-track for a Mugello unveiling in early-July, where Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will reportedly take to the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1 immediately after the Italian GP at Mugello. Of the items expected on the new machine is a gearbox similar to the one found on the 2011 Honda RC212V. You can also expect the new M1 to have a considerably more power, something the riders have been complaining about to Yamaha for some time. The MotoGP test at Mugello is of course not a certain thing, as Dorna has yet to confirm the outing