VALENTINO ROSSI and the new Honda RCV four-stroke have gone an incredible THREE SECONDS faster than lap record pace in tests at Sepang, Malaysia.
The reigning world champ’s unprecedented performance came just days after he had also signed a new record pay deal for a bike racer – worth £10 million over two years.
The 22-year-old Italian ended the two-day test with a stunning time of 2.03.61, obliterating the 2.06.61 record that he set when he won last October's Malaysian GP on the Honda NSR500 two-stroke. His frightening pace was even two seconds faster than the pole position achieved by Loris Capirossi in 2001.
Rossi will now await further improvements to the RCV before next month’s fresh round of tests in Barcelona, which will also be attended by Yamaha, Suzuki and Aprilia. Only then will it be seen whether the kind of incredible improvements in speed shown by Rossi can be matched in any way by rivals and their all-new four-stroke machines.
He said: "The RCV is definitely very, very fast. We also did a tyre endurance test, running full grand prix distance at race speed and the results were very good. But the RCV is a prototype and there is still plenty of room for development."
Rossi’s team-mate Tohru Ukawa was also very quick, logging a best time of 2.04.29 although he fell twice on the final day, taking his winter crash tally to five.
More on this story, plus more GP test news in MCN February 13.