A day after a third place finish at the Catalan Grand prix, Stoner tried out the new machine with test riders Vittoriano Guareschi and Niccolò Canepa. Riding on qualifying tires, Stoner recorded the best test time of the day at 1:41.533. On race tires, his time of 1:42.632 was faster than the lap times recorded by all but three other racers.
“I’m happy with the way today has gone. The objective was to understand whether this new chassis concept has potential and I’d say that for now it looks to be the case,” says Stoner. “We were quickly into some decent times using the same set-up as the GP8. We barely changed anything to adapt it to the characteristics of the GP9 and I immediately felt an improvement so that is positive.”
Stoner’s Ducati Marlboro teammate Marco Melandri tested his GP8 race bike on Monday but will have his turn on the GP9 on June 10.
Though the GP9 is still early in its development, Ducati Corse general manager Filippo Preziosi says this week was a good time to have Stoner and Melandri test the new machine.
“There are some things that are possible to analyze with data such as in the engine or the cycle part but other areas where it is absolutely essential to have the riders’ opinions,” says Preziosi. “So it was important to get their feedback to understand if the choices we’ve made have been the right ones and to get their suggestions.”
Preziosi also says that the changes to the GP9 were more evolutionary than revolutionary.
“Some changes we’ve made to the cycle part could seem more revolutionary than others but in reality we continue to evolve the initial concept that we designed with the GP3. So it’s not a change in the direction of development, but another step forward in the same direction,” says Preziosi. “With the 990, the seat supports and the footpegs were attached to the frame. With the 800 they are both completely separate and on the GP9 the front part is even more dedicated to support and the dimensions become more limited. The fact we’ve used carbon fiber in the production of the chassis is not the most relevant point, it is more the shape that is different from before.”