Anyone wondering when the first of the 2012 MotoGP bikes would make their first public (or almost public) appearance finally has their answer: Today. On Thursday, Ducati Corse's test team - consisting of test rider Franco Battaini and Vito Guareschi - took the GP12 out for a shakedown test prior to handing the bike over to the Marlboro Ducati factory riders, Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Rossi is due to put his first laps on the GP12 on Friday, while Hayden will take the new bike out for a spin on Saturday.
Normally, all testing by contracted riders - that is, riders who are currently participating in the MotoGP class - is banned under the regulations, outside of the official tests after the Estoril and Brno MotoGP rounds. However, the rules also make one exception: Rule 1.15.11 allows for "any activity authorized by Race Direction." With the capacity changing for 2012, a gentlemen's agreement almost certainly exists between the factories to allow the factory riders to test the 1000cc bikes outside of the regular schedule. An extra test for the 1000cc bikes has already been planned for the day after the Mugello MotoGP race, but it is conceivable all of the factories will schedule extra tests with their factory riders.