Jerez test: Valentino Rossi ends 2008 on top

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Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi ended his superb 2008 campaign at the top of the timesheets in the final winter test of the year in Jerez.

Rossi, who won nine races to regain the premier class crown in 2008, ended the year on top spot having clocked a best time of 1.39.429 on the 2009 prototype Yamaha YZR-M1.

The Italian, who will compete in the Rally of Great Britain in early December, finished just 0.018s ahead of Spaniard Dani Pedrosa as the duo were the only two to break the 1.40 barrier on the final day.

With cold conditions preventing any track action until 1pm, Rossi was quickly in the groove when he ventured out for the first time at 2pm.

He needed only three laps to move to the top of the timesheets and he clocked the fastest time in his final run of the day on his 52nd lap.

Rossi’s best time was marginally faster than Pedrosa’s best from day one, while he was 0.7s quicker than his own previous best at the two-day test session.

The 29-year-old was also 0.7s inside Pedrosa’s 2008 Spanish lap record.

Rossi tried yet more new engine parts in the ’09 YZR-M1, which also features a new chassis and he said: “In general I am very happy today because I close the year at the top with a good lap time, so it is a great way to finish a fantastic year for me and for Yamaha. It is not that important but for the feeling going into the winter it is good.”

Talking about the new engine parts, Rossi told MCN: “The new parts worked not so bad and it is another step in the right direction. It is an improvement and now the Japanese have some important information to build the new bike for the next test at Sepang in February.

“The new engine parts again helped with acceleration out of the slower corners, which was an area we needed to work in this area. The power now is less aggressive and this is not so bad.”

Rossi also tried the new Dainese suit fitted with the protective airbag system today, though he said: “Luckily I didn’t need to use it, and I hope never to use it.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt