It looks like Honda’s advantage with its slick gearbox (one that never interrupts drive, seemlessly engaging the next gear) will end at Assen where Ducati will introduce its own new transmission allegedly featuring the same advances. This transmission will be on Valentino Rossi’s GP11.1, a bike featuring next year’s 1000cc chassis incorporating the current 800cc engine.
Nicky Hayden will receive the 2012 chassis at Laguna Seca when he is next scheduled for an engine swap (remember, MotoGP riders are limited to the number of engines they may use each year, and Hayden has used one more than Rossi so far).
The pictures accompanying this article are of Rossi aboard the GP12 (next year’s 1000cc bike) at a recent test. Apparently, both Rossi and Hayden are very impressed with the 2012 chassis and are anxious to try it during the remainder of this season.
Here is a press release from Ducati describing the bike changes for this weekend’s Assen round, including a minor chassis upgrade for Hayden.
The Ducati MotoGP Team, continuing its development process with the Desmosedici, will introduce a variety of new updates at Assen. Valentino Rossi will take to the track with the next generation of the bike, called the GP11.1. The design process for this bike began after the Sepang tests, with construction beginning after the riders approved the GP12’s chassis during its first test, at Jerez.
For the GP11.1, the Corse Department prepared an 800cc engine that installs in the chassis that Ducati engineers are developing for 2012. The bike will also use a new gearbox, the “DST- Ducati Seamless Transmission”, the design process for which began in 2010.
Nicky Hayden, who has already used four engines this season, will use a GP11 equipped with the step-2 frame, whose stiffness has been further modified compared to the step-1 version that was introduced at the Estoril test. According to the engine-rotation schedule, he will ride the GP11.1 at Laguna Seca.
Assen is a track that both Ducati MotoGP Team riders like very much, and one where both have achieved strong results: seven victories and three podiums across all classes for Valentino Rossi, one victory and a podium for Nicky Hayden.
VALENTINO ROSSI, Ducati MotoGP Team
“Assen is one of my tracks—one of those that I like most and where I’ve had some nice races in all the classes. We’ll try to take advantage of that good feeling and of our experience at this circuit because Thursday morning we’ll debut some updates to my bike that are very promising but also very fresh. Filippo [Preziosi], the guys at Ducati and the Test Team have worked really hard, and that has enabled us to make this new step with the development of our bike. We haven’t had the chance to test the 800 since Estoril, so we’ll do it during the race weekends, being aware that despite having very limited time, we’ll have to focus on two jobs: making basic adjustments to the new technical parts, and finding a general setup for the race on Saturday. We’ll have to do a good job on the track in order to get the most out of the work done at the factory. It will be hard, and we know it might take some time before we can completely reach the potential of the whole package, but we’re happy and motivated by the work we’re doing.”
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati MotoGP Team
“There was no GP this past weekend, but the time went by pretty quickly, as I had a test at Mugello and a couple of PR appearances. Now it’s time for Assen, which is an awesome race. I have some good memories there, including a win, and it’s a place I really like, with a lot of history and tradition. The track has changed over the years, but I like the new section. We’ve had a big gap to the front lately, but now we have another new step with the chassis. The first step helped with the feeling, and hopefully this one will also help with the lap time. It’s clear that Ducati is working hard, and that’s motivating for me, for the team, and for all of our Ducati supporters. I look forward to getting my hands on a GP11.1 as soon as possible as well.”
FILIPPO PREZIOSI, Ducati Technical Director
“We decided to make the GP11.1, which is an 800cc engine in a GP12 chassis, in order to accelerate development on next year’s bike, and also to provide our riders with a potentially better base for the current championship. Considering that Valentino still hasn’t ever ridden the GP11.1, this decision could require some races for the team to completely take advantage of its potential, but we decided to move forward with it because we believe it’s an important step for our development process. The next-generation gearbox, on the other hand, is a solution that we think will be an immediate improvement. The Ducati Corse Department will continue studying further innovations, both for this year and for 2012. At the same time, we have developed an additional step for the frame for Nicky, and he’ll receive the GP11.1 at Laguna Seca.”