After the recent launch of the Ducati MotoGP team – with riders Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso – along with the Desmosedici GP17, some questions emerged about a rather mysterious looking box on the tail-end of the GP17. During a pit walk-around at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) at the International Road Racing Teams Association (IRTA) winter test, we managed to get some pics of the carbon-fibre box.

Snugged up tight against the exhaust inside the tail-piece, the black box divulged none of its secrets, and Julian Thomas, Ducati’s MotoGP press manager, was understandably tight-lipped about the whole thing. Scuttle-butt in the paddock has it that the box is somehow tied into a Ducati patented variable orifice exhaust system that functions much like an airplane’s jet exhaust.

This is said to provide extra thrust out the rear end of the Desmosedici, without taking away too much back pressure. During the pit walk organised by Shell Malaysia, a sponsor to the Ducati Corse MotoGP team, some of the innards of the front fork were shown, including an incredibly gorgeous titanium spring, with a gold finish.

Absent from the winter test version of the Desmosedici GP17 were the winglets from last year, although the Ducati Corse team is reportedly working on “other aerodynamic improvements.” “Without the wings we had to adapt to the bike, and we still have a lot of fine-tuning work to do, both with the electronics and on the set-up, because the bike behaves differently, but in any case we are maintaining a good competitive level,” said Dovizioso.

During testing on Monday, January 30, test rider Casey Stoner, two-time world MotoGP champion, came back to the grid with an impressive 1’59.681″, ahead of Dovizioso, who was 0.115 seconds slower. Lorenzo, who left the Yamaha MotoGP team after rumours of a less than amicable relationship with multiple MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, came in a full 1.669 seconds slower.

Michele Pirro, Ducati Corse’s second test rider, will be performing testing duties today, before it is decided who will close out the final day’s testing on Wednesday. It is, of course, early days yet, ahead of the 2017 MotoGP opening round at the Grand Prix of Qatar, held at the Local International Circuit on March 23 to 26.