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“I like the GP12,” said Valentino Rossi after completing 50 laps aboard next year’s MotoGP Ducati at Jerez today. “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.”

It might sound fluffy, but this was an historic moment. There’s Rossi, of course, but the switch to a 1,000cc maximum capacity creates the largest change to the MotoGP formula since the series went 800cc in 2007. With the exception of the secret Honda gearbox, it’s easy to get the feeling that most teams are simply treating 2011 as a technical “pass” year, with the big news being Rossi trying to build some feel into his Desmosedici’s front end. Next year we get bigger motors and more power of course, but also hopefully a more level playing field. The 81mm bore should effectively reduce maximum revs, bringing potential engine development costs down with them.

The capacity increase could also be a boon to fans, maintaining apex momentum has made 800s somewhat boring to watch. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing Nicky Hayden slide a bike again. He’ll test the Ducati Desmosedici GP12 this weekend.

“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,” explained Filippo Preziosi. “This gives us great satisfaction, and we’re optimistic about the work that still remains to be done.”

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