Ducati will be able to get a clearer understanding of whether recent chassis and swingarm improvements to its factory Desmosedici machine are a big step forward after this weekend’s Motorland Aragon MotoGP clash.
Rossi scored his best ever dry race result with second at Misano earlier this month on a new chassis and swingarm package that delivered improved rear stability on corner entry and extended tyre life.
The 33-year-old though had tested the new parts during a two-day session at Misano prior to the race weekend.
And with practice in Misano badly disrupted by rain that limited the set-up time available to his rivals, crew chief Jerry Burgess says a better understanding of how much the updates have improved the GP12 will come this weekend in Spain.
Burgess told MCN: “They had the two-day test before Misano and with the lack of practice we may have been in a position of advantage but it certainly felt positive and we will take it to Aragon and I think we will get a clearer picture there.
"I really wouldn’t stick my neck out just at this moment but first impressions are it is a small step and as we try and close down the gap it is only small steps we are going to take.”
Burgess wouldn’t go into specific details about the tweaks to the GP12 that has struggled for much of the season with more understeer and tyre wear issues.
But he added: “Without going into too much the steering head is in a little bit of a different position and it allows you to get more adjustment on the front.
"We had better entry with less sliding from the rear and the tyre life was good from both front and rear and the bike felt very balanced. The other guys didn’t have the set-up time in Misano as they would normally get so I’m hoping it is as positive as it looked.
"With this set-up we have he can now put the bike into the corner and then use the brakes, where before he had to use the brakes and then enter the corner. He can use more lean angle and more brake, so that for sure is a positive step. Whether it is the type of circuit is something we will have to see when we get to Aragon."
Rossi and Burgess have both been unhappy at the slow rate that Ducati has developed the GP12 this season and prior to Misano the Bologna factory had not scored a podium in the new 1000cc era.
Aussie Burgess though denied the upgrades were too little, too late, with Rossi rejecting the chance to sign a new Ducati deal in 2013 to complete a return to Yamaha on a two-year contract.
He added: “I wouldn’t say that. Things are what they are and what we have got to do now is look forward to the next five races and look back and say in the last six we definitely made steps forward and Ducati has a good base from which to move on with.
"We are trying to make the bike better. We will look at the next few races because Dani (Pedrosa) wasn’t in the race in Misano and Casey (Stoner) wasn’t there.
"With those two in it we would probably have been fourth but still closer to them but that’s something. If we can close out the season with better results everybody will be happy.”