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GP Week : Issue 133
VALENTINO Rossi completed his sixth of eight permitted in-season test days with the 2013 Ducati, the prototype for the 1000cc-rules machine, at Mugello last Thursday. That much is certain. What he rode, and what Ducati will do next, were matters for fevered speculation. Spy photographs of a document seen in the pits at Misano the weekend before blew controversy wide open. The CAD drawing was of a twin-beam aluminium chassis, and the obvious assumption was it was designed to take Ducati’s unique 90- degree V4 engine. Security was tight at the Italian company’s official test track, and one leaked photograph revealed nothing: with bodywork concealing the presence (or absence) of a full conventional chassis. The photograph of the computer design drawing was published by Britain’s MCN, and the same source later reported confirmation from Ducati that they had “been co-operating” with British specialist chassis constructors FTR. The drawing was allegedly FTR’s design sketch, shown to Ducat mechanics for the first time at Misano. FTR, then known as Fabtech, have previous premier-class experience constructing two-stroke chassis for the Team Roberts Modenas/Proton 500. At the same time, news leaked that Swiss Moto2 manufacturer Suter had also been approached by Ducati, but had turned down the commission because the time schedule was too short. This flies in the face of Ducati’s denial: “ The rumours are wrong,” said the company’s Filippo Preziosi; although he later added: “We will never tell you what we will do in the future, but sometimes we will tell lies.” Ducati’s official announcement gave away little, stating only that Rossi’s test had followed two days of testing by team manager Vittoriano Guareschi and official tester Franco Battaini; and that he had completed 82 laps (including taking a tumble early in the proceedings). Design guru Preziosi was present as they tested until 6:30 pm. Rossi gave little away in his post-test briefing: “It was an interesting day,” he said, adding that they had “confirmed various aspects of the GP12’s electronics and chassis, collecting a lot of useful information for Filippo and the guys in the factory.” THE second test of Yamaha’s 2013 factory weapon for the new 1000cc class at Misano left more questions than answers, as neither race-winner Lorenzo nor team-mate Spies were able to improve on their best lap times, set during qualifying two days before. This was in sharp contrast to the bike’s first outing after the Brno race, where Spies was almost a full second faster, and Lorenzo not far behind. The nature of the circuit was one reason: Spies later admitted that the bigger bike had been a real handful on the much narrower and tighter Italian circuit. Nor was the team favoured with ideal conditions, with the surface slippery after bad weather overnight. Lorenzo was the faster, as both riders worked on electronics to help tame the early prototypes. His best lap of 60 was 1.33.7, two tenths inside his best race lap, but almost half-a-second off his best qualifying lap. Spies ran 74 laps and recorded a best time of 1’34.3 . This was also two-tenths inside his best race lap, but four tenths slower than qualifying. Lorenzo remained optimistic: “It’s been a little bit more difficult here than Brno, which is a very fast track. Misano is a little bit slower so the difference between the 800 and the 1000 is much smaller. It’s difficult to understand the riding style you must use straight away,” he said. Spies said it had been hard work, but “real fun to ride. “Misano is a much more physical track – a lot of wheelies and rear spinning. Funtoride...andwegota lot of data for the next step." DUCATI KEEPS MOTOGP GUESSING Yam thousands a handful at Misano Lorenzo and Spies slower than 800s Did Rossi test out-sourced aluminium chassis? The lap times will give some hope to Suzuki, where the team hopes to maintain a foothold next year, racing the existing 800. Sole rider Alvaro Bautista’s best weekend lap time was the same as Spies’s best on the Yamaha 1000. 16