New Ducati chassis spied in Mugello

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Ducati have been spotted testing the new British-built aluminium frame that they hope will transform Valentino Rossi's woeful MotoGP performance this season.

The frame, built by Buckingham-based FTR, is being tested in Mugello this week.

Bologna factory sources have confirmed to MCN in Misano last weekend that FTR had been collaborating with Ducati for several weeks on the new projects, with Rossi and teammate Nicky Hayden urging engineers to undergo a radical re-design of its Desmosedici project.

Rossi and Hayden have complained all season about a chronic understeer issue and lack of front-end feel with the current carbon-fibre concept. The pair have scored only one podium each in 2011 and Rossi has given up trying to maintain his record of winning at least one GP a year since his world championship debut in 1996.

FTR management refused to comment on a link with Ducati. Drawings have been spotted clearly showing the rear of a twin beam aluminium structure. The bike is believed to have already been built as a 1000, with rules preventing further testing on the current 800cc bikes.

Rossi confirmed he was testing the GP12 1000cc bike in Mugello this week, but he refused to divulge specific details. The 32-year-old, who finished seventh at Misano, said: "We have some new things to try to improve the front grip and the turning, but this is work for 2012."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt