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Ducati 1199 seen once again

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Ducati's 2012 superbike can't really be described as 'secret' any more having already been seen on the front pages of bike magazines worldwide in various states of camouflage. But it's still looking like it will be the most interesting new model to be launched later this year and the latest shots reveal a few more details.

Caught in the Mugello pit lane, the new pictures show the right hand side of the bike, the first time we've had a proper look at that angle. And it reveals something that other shots haven't shown; something that appears to be the exhaust header pipe from the front cylinder runs outside the fairing for a large proportion of its length.

If that's the case, and reviewing earlier shots appears to confirm it, it illustrates that the new Ducati's bodywork is shrink-wrapped so tightly around the mechanical components that allowing the exhaust to be exposed is the best way to package it without reducing ground clearance or risk melting the plastics.

From the routing of the pipe, which can be seen running just below the visible engine cases and above the under-belly silencer, it's clear the front cylinder's exhaust enters the muffler at the back. It's probably necessary to give a long enough header pipe to maximise the engines power and torque characteristics. On an 1198 the front cylinder's header runs directly under the engine, but the new bike's repositioned silencer fills that gap, so the pipe has to run around the side.

Other than that, there isn't too much to be seen in the new shots that hasn't already been discussed. The latest pictures show what appears to be a standard version of the bike in red with black gaffa-tape accents, plus an all-black "SP" version with Öhlins forks and different wheels. Both machines are using unpainted aluminium fuel tanks, although the production versions are likely to be plastic.

Reports about the bike's performance - invariably from slightly biased sources, since only factory-employed riders have actually experienced it so far - claim the 1199 is a massive step forward. And given Ducati's recent record with the Multistrada and Diavel, it's hard to discount the idea the firm might have come up with something very special indeed.

The only question mark now seems to hang over the bike's frame, believed to be an aluminium version of the 'stressed airbox' used on the firm's Desmosedici racer. The Desmo's carbon fibre version of the design is increasingly coming under scrutiny as the possible culprit for Rossi's lacklustre performances this year. However, witnesses of the 1199 prototypes' runs at Mugello suggest it's not suffering many problems at the moment.


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