Five days after taking fifth at a wet and controversial Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, Valentino Rossi returned to the track Friday to do some initial testing on the Ducati GP12.Rossi got onto the Jerez circuit a bit after 11 a.m., and did an initial run of six laps under windy conditions to get a feel of the Ducati GP12.Once Rossi got back out on the Jerez circuit, he ended the day with 50 laps completed on the GP12. Between these laps, Rossi had mini-briefings with his Ducati MotoGP team. While Rossi tested the GP12, Ducati test rider Franco Battaini continued to work with electronics and chassis settings on Rossi’s current bike, the GP11.Valentino Rossi (Ducati MotoGP) says: “I’m happy. I like the GP12. In my opinion, it’s more enjoyable, more fun to ride. It was the first time we had it on the track, so we had some work to do, but the engine is nicer. It’s a lot of fun, and you can do some nice slides. It’s the bike we’ll ride next year, so it was very important-and also very nice-to be among the first to take it on the track.”Filippo Preziosi (Ducati MotoGP Technical Director) says: “We chose to have our factory riders-today Vale, tomorrow Nicky-try the bike beginning with its first test, because we think their feedback is essential for starting us on the right path for the early development.“To be able to work with Vale for a full day is more than any technician could ask. We gathered considerable feedback that we’ll translate into further design and development for next year’s bike.“The positive thing is that the technical choices made for the GP12 in the initial planning phase, in 2010-and I’m referring primarily to the engine, which is still a big-bang, and to the rear end-were endorsed by Valentino. This gives us great satisfaction, and we’re optimistic about the work that still remains to be done. We know that our competitors are also working hard and developing their 2012 bikes, but that just makes the challenge better.”Rossi didn’t give the all-new Ducati MotoGP prototype its debut on-track sessions, though. The bike was on the Jerez track on Wednesday with Ducati test men Franco Battaini and Vittoriano Guareschi at the controls.Rossi’s teammate, Nicky Hayden, will get conduct his testing of the Ducati GP12 on Saturday in Spain.For 2012, MotoGP will allow teams to run 1000cc-prototypes, a first since MotoGP switched to the 800cc format in 2007. It has not yet been confirmed what teams will run the 1000cc engines.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.