Valentino Rossi signed off an unbelievable 2001 by going even faster on the final day of Honda's four-stroke test at Phillip Island today.
The Nastro Azzurro rider got his time down to 1.32.00 which was just 0.1s outside of rival Max Biaggi's pole position time set at October's Oz GP.
It was a massive 0.9s inside Kenny Roberts' lap record set in 1999 and Rossi, after wrapping up a year that saw him win the final world 500 crown, claim Honda's 500th GP victory and the Suzuka Eight-hour endurance race, admitted that he was finally enjoying riding the RCV.
Rossi, who was sporting a beard at the three-day test, said: "The results of this test has been positive. I was actually starting having fun but we have a lot of work to improve some points but in general I'm quite satisfied."
Team-mate Tohru Ukawa completed a massive 92 laps on the final day but he could only get down to a time of 1.33, and world 250 champion Daijiro Katoh bettered that on his works two-stroke NSR. His best was a 1.32.57 while Jurgen van den Goorbergh clocked a 1.34.03 on the new Bridgestone-shod NSR. That time was almost a second outside his qualifying mark set on the Proton KR3.