ITALIAN magazine Moto Sprint has managed get pictures of Ducati's new superbike testing at Mugello.
A race-spec version of the machine was being ridden there at the same test as the new Desmosedici GP12, with Italian superstock rider Danilo Petrucci at the helm. Since the bike appeared on the cover of Moto Sprint this morning, the rider has been bombarded with questions about the bike on his Facebook page, but is refusing to say anything about it.
We can see that the new bike retains the trademark single-sided swingarm, and although it's largely hidden under the disguised bodywork, it appears that the trellis frame has been ditched, as expected, in favour of a monocoque as used on the firm's GP bike – although it's impossible to be sure if it's made of carbon fibre on the production machine.
The rear shock has been mounted horizontally and the swingarm appears to be enormously long. That would confirm earlier rumours that the new bike has a totally new V-twin engine, with an ultra-short stroke and huge bore (the bike's suggested codename “Superquadrata” translates as “super-square” - a reference to the over-square nature of the cylinder dimensions.)
Unlike previous Ducatis, where the V-twin is arranged as an 'L' with one cylinder pointing straight forward, the new bike tilts the engine back to move the mass of the motor forward in the chassis – hence the ability to use a longer swingarm.
Styling wise it's hard to make out many details thanks to the disguise and the lack of headlights mean the bike's “face” is missing, but the super-short tail looks very much like Aprilia's RSV4 (designed by former Ducati man Miguel Angel Galluzzi).
The test of a WSBK-spec machine also suggests that Ducati is scheming to make an official return to the series in 2012.
Now it's out of the bag, you can be sure this bike will be the biggest topic of conversation in motorcycle magazines for the rest of the year. Let us know your first impressions...