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Ducati ready to respond

“We have three different groups of designers all are working non-stop, so for sure we will continuously supply new parts in all these areas” - Filippo Preziosi.

Ducati is already working 'non-stop' on improving all areas of its 2012 MotoGP machine, which experienced a disappointing second test at Sepang in Malaysia this week.

Seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi was just over one-second from the best lap time of Honda's Casey Stoner on Thursday, slightly closer than he'd been at the first test in early February.

But the Italian superstar, buoyed by the 'feel' of the GP12 on his debut early last month, couldn't hide his disappointment as handling and timesheet position worsened during the return visit.

Fifth at Sepang I, Rossi dropped to tenth by the conclusion of Sepang II, one place ahead of healing team-mate Nicky Hayden.

"We tried a bunch of things in order to take a step forward from the first test, but unfortunately, we weren't able to do it and were actually worse," said Rossi. "It was harder for me to ride well compared to three weeks ago, especially my corner speed."

While the pace-setting Honda and Yamaha 1000cc machines have evolved through track tests during 2011, Ducati only settled on a design for its factory GP12 - the first Desmosedici to feature an aluminium twin-spar chassis - at the end of last year.

Ducati Corse general manager Filippo Preziosi has reassured that all areas of the bike are constantly being worked on, but warned that major updates already in the pipeline are not likely until at least several rounds into the racing season.

"Unfortunately this test was not done in the way we hoped because of the bad weather on the first and second day. Today we were a bit more lucky," said Preziosi, speaking at lunchtime on the final day of testing in Malaysia.

"Of course we need testing time more than the others, because we have to close the gap. But we think we have a base. Now we have to work properly on that base in order to understand which direction we have to develop.

"We have a plan for the future and will adjust this plan depending on the comments of the riders."

If Rossi's words to Preziosi that evening were the same as those to the press, the plucky Italian factory may have to revise its schedule. But as of Thursday, Preziosi explained that updates for the 'main points' are unlikely before rounds three or four (in May).

"I showed Valentino yesterday [day two] what we are doing for the future. After the end of last year, when we had finished the design of the bike for the Sepang I test, we started on the design of new parts," he said.

"There are some main points we believe we can improve and for that reason I told him what we are doing and when we expect to introduce it. Of course it depends on the results of the preliminary tests. Maybe after three races is a little bit early...

"We have three different groups of designers - engine, chassis and electronics - and these three groups are working non-stop, so for sure we will continuously supply new parts in all these areas.

"We know our riders are good for fighting for top positions, so we are working to put our riders in a condition to do that."

Turning to Ducati's rivals, Preziosi believes the remaining Japanese MotoGP manufacturers are evenly matched, with two riders standing out above the others.

"Our competitors are very strong and Honda and Yamaha are closely matched. Jorge is a little less fast over a single lap, but has a good [race] pace, so I think maybe he could fight with Casey," said Preziosi.

"But of course Casey was the strongest during this test and is the world champion, so everybody suspects he is the favourite."

The third and final pre-season test will be held at Jerez, Spain from March 23-25, with the season-opening grand prix in Qatar on April 8.

Rossi and Hayden finished seventh and eighth in last year's championship, with one podium each.

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