Valentino Rossi was back in the saddle today, testing his shoulder at the Italian Misano track ahead of the official MotoGP test scheduled at Sepang next month. Barred from turning a wheel on the Ducati Desmosedici GP11 because of the MotoGP winter testing ban, Rossi had to make do with a WSBK-spec 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP to test his fitness levels.
Rossi’s fitness for the upcoming season is a large variable for Ducati, as the race team will need Rossi’s input at Sepang to not only further setup the GP11 for the nine-time World Champion, but his input is likely to find its way into all the Desmosedici’s on the MotoGP grid (Hector Barbera was just recently quoted as saying as much).
The eagle eyes at Dutch publication have spotted the 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP sitting on the Intermot showroom floor before the crowds and media were officially let in today. Sporting a quick-shifter, slipper clutch, aluminum tank, and Öhlins TTX shock, the Ducati Superbike 1198 SP is sure to be a favorite with the track-going crowd, but with a price tag expected to be only $100 more than the current Ducati Superbike 1198 S, we think the 1198 SP will be a big hit with any loyal Ducatisti.
With the 2011 Ducati Superbike 1198 SP, Ducati clearly wants to clear the inventory of the Superbike 1198 models, and make way for the 2012 Superbike that’s so important to the Italian company, that it quit World Superbike over it. More photos and video after the jump.