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Rossi Throttles Ducati, First MotoGP Test

MotoGP Valencia Test

Once Ducati confirmed that Valentino Rossi would join for 2011, the anticipation to see the Italian on an Italian machine immediately began.

And on Tuesday, the official relationship was ignited with the first appearance of nine-time World Champion Rossi aboard the Ducati Desmosedici, Rossi wearing black Dainese leathers with the typical radiant yellow stripes and 46 showing on his back.

Many MotoGP and Rossi fans will likely dish out negative responses to Rossi’s lap times on the first of two days of testing at Valencia, considering he was 10th fastest with a 1:33.882, almost two seconds slower than his former teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

But today and tomorrow’s traditional post-Valencia MotoGP tests have nothing to do with who’s quickest. General Manager of Ducati Corse Filippo Preziosi says the main agenda during the Valencia MotoGP tests will be deciding which engine type to progress with for the 2011 MotoGP season: the "Big Bang" or the "Screamer."

With this in mind, Rossi went to work with Ducati, joined on the Ducati Team by his former Yamaha chief mechanic Jeremy Burgess and a number of his former Yamaha crew.

For most of Tuesday, Rossi tested a black, carbon-colored Ducati GP11 with the calmer "Big Bang" engine; this is the same engine that his teammate Nicky Hayden and former Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner used during the 2010 MotoGP season.

While testing the "Big Bang" GP11, Rossi tested various chassis geometry, forks, fairings and other settings. And VR 46’s initial reactions were positive.

Filippo Preziosi says: "It has been an exciting day for sure. The main thing that hit me today was Vale’s positive feedback and his capacity for analysis. Today he tested the GP11 with the ‘big bang’ engine on a standard setting, which he modified step by step to adapt it to his riding style."

"His first comment when he lifted his visor up was a positive one about the power delivery and then he gave some impressive technical details. We certainly have a lot to do to adapt the bike to his riding style but it is really nice and very interesting to work in this way."

"We worked on the geometry and setting today to see how the bike responded and to get a bit of experience working with both Vale and Jeremy (Burgess). At the end of the session he went out on the screamer version but we will make more of an analysis between the two engines tomorrow because they deliver the power in very different ways – the big bang has a more regular power curve whereas the screamer is more aggressive but also more powerful."

After both days of testing, the data and Rossi and Hayden’s input will be analyzed, and Preziosi and the Ducati crew should be able to make the decision of what motor to progress with for the 2011 season.

The more powerful "Screamer" sounds like it’d be the logical choice, but power doesn’t necessarily equal speed in MotoGP. It’s all about how much of this power can be channeled through the GP11’s carbon (very still) frame and chassis. Each rider has their own preferences, and after Tuesday’s post-season testing, Ducati is starting to get a feel for what Rossi likes.

Rossi did make one run with the more powerful "Screamer" engine towards the end of the test, but there wasn’t enough seat time to make accurate impressions.

The team will continue testing the GP11 with this more aggressive "Screamer" configuration on Wednesday.

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