The new bike is the 2012 chassis which will be fitted with an 800cc engine that will allow Ducati to continue to develop their bike for next season. With Rossi struggling for form this season it is clear that Ducati have decided to cut their losses with the current season and try and learn as much as possible for the transition to 1000cc machinery next year.
Interestingly the GP11.1 will also feature Ducati’s version of the seamless transition gearbox that many felt was key to Honda’s early season dominance and which Ducati started development on midway through last year.
The new chassis will only be available to Rossi from this weekend with his teammate, Nicky Hayden, set to have his first sampling of the GP11.1 at his home Grand Prix at Laguna Seca in July.
Assen has been a successful circuit for Rossi in the past and the nine times world champion will once again be confident of a strong result but the expectation heaped on his shoulders by this aggressive move by Ducati is likely not to yield results until later in the season.
“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,” said the Italian. “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.”
Ducati has finished on the podium at Assen in each year of the 800cc era but with the gulf in class between the Bologna manufacturer and Honda and Yamaha it is clear that any chance of a repeat performance this weekend will be exceptionally difficult.