Ducati Team manager Vito Guareschi spoke of "positive signs" for the latest spec of the GP12 after the Grand Prix of Aragon.
Valentino Rossi qualified eighth and finished eighth at MotorLand Aragon, turning his sixth-place qualifying spot and second-place finish two weeks ago in dry weather at Misano into a fading memory. Rossi said last week that Aragon would be a true test for the new swingarm and frame that debuted with success at Misano.
Test result? Incomplete, at best.
Guareschi made a valid point that the wet conditions Friday prevented Ducati from further honing of its dry-weather setup. But the bike still was on track for a free practice session and qualifying in the dry Saturday, with the eighth-quickest time in both. The warm-up Sunday was worse, as Rossi finished ninth.
Rossi also went off track during the race, once when he made an ill-fated outside passing move on Johnny Rea entering a left-hander. He re-entered the track and was able to swallow up the CRT bikes and satellite backmarkers Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera. Not exactly Murderers Row, and he ended up 12 seconds behind seventh-place Rea and 16 seconds behind sixth-place Hector Barbera.
Motegi will prove to be a more accurate judge of Ducati's progress than the jumbled conditions at Aragon. But still, Ducati Corse made little progress on the time sheets in dry conditions last weekend even if it claimed that setup changes during warm-up helped Rossi preserve his tires during the race.
It's looking more and more like the emotion and adrenaline of returning to his home track - and that of his fallen friend Marco Simoncelli - and many testing miles of the new parts at Misano helped Rossi reach the podium there more than a big jump in speed and stability in the latest evolution of the Desmosedici GP12.
One other fact for Ducati and Rossi to ponder: Casey Stoner should be back at Motegi. It's going to be that much harder to return to the podium.