Valentino Rossi was encouraged with the early impressions of the Ducati GP12 as testing got underway at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit on Tuesday. The Italian squad carried out the first laps on the new 1000cc model as they desperately seek to improve following a miserable 2011.
Rossi was 1.671s off the pace in sixth and acknowledges there is plenty of work to do over the winter, although was pleased with the early signs from the new bike.
“This bike is nicer to ride than the 800, even if we're only just starting our work. You can say that it's improved in some respects, while in others, it's very similar to the other bike, but that's exactly what we expected. We know we're doing preparatory work for the bike that we'll use in the 2012 winter tests, which are very important. The engine seems to be pretty good already. It's fast, although I never really found myself with the others to do a direct comparison. On the other hand, I'm a little slower in mid-corner, and we also have to try to improve rear grip because for now, we're not able to get the power to the ground and take full advantage of it. But it's not bad for a first taste, and the really important thing is that we can work more freely, changing the bike's balance, the weight distribution, the measurements, and whatever we need as we prepare for the important next three months of work.”
Test rider Franco Battaini was 11th fastest on the second GP12 as Nicky Hayden sat out the test due to injuries sustained in the first lap crash during Sunday's race. Hayden was looking forward to testing the new machine but admitted that it was best to play it safe.
“This morning I put my leathers on to go out, but I was still pretty uncomfortable. I went to the mobile clinic for a painkiller, and when I got there, the doctor said it would be better to get a proper scan. They set me up for an MRI at a local clinic, and the fractures were pretty clear. After talking to the doctor and my physiotherapist, we decided not to ride, even though we do have some stuff we'd like to test for Ducati. The scaphoid is a unique bone, and if you mess with it, it can take a long time to heal because it gets limited blood supply. I just have to be smart and watch the test. We'll get some more opinions and decide whether to get surgery.”