With one race left in the 2003 season there are still plenty of goals for Valentino Rossi to aim for: A podium would equal a run of 22 consecutive top three finishes achieved by Giacomo Agostini in the 1967/8/9 seasons, a win would give Honda a record equalling 15th victory in one season, plus the Repsol rider can claim a top of the range sports car by taking the Best Qualifier award - and he could do it all in Austin Powers livery!

For the last race of the year - and potentially his Honda career - Rossi will be riding a specially painted RC211V and wearing leathers to match. Over the summer, title sponsor Repsol ran a competition with Spanish motorcycle magazine, Motociclismo, in which readers were invited to create a paint scheme incorporating the famous Spanish companies logo in a flamboyant design.

The magazine was inundated with responses and Rossi(pictured in Hawaiian livery at 2001 Italian GP), together with top management from Honda and Repsol, chose a design from 15 shortlisted entries. The secret final creation will be unveiled over Valencia race weekend and ridden in the 30-lap race on Sunday - with an Austin Powers theme tipped most likely to appear.

But, it will take more than that to distract attention from Rossi's future and sometime over the weekend the Italian will surely have to announce where he will ride in 2004 - with Honda, Yamaha or Ducati.

For now, as for the last few months, unambiguous comment on that topic remains out of bounds and the #46 instead preferred to recall an unforgettable year: "It has been an amazing season for me. I knew at the beginning of the year that it would be impossible to make as many wins as we did last year. The competition this year has been very strong," said the 24-year-old.

"The team have worked very well and we have been very consistent on the podium. I will remember this season for a long time as we make many incredible races. I hope to finish well at Valencia. It is not my favourite circuit and I have never had a victory there. We try very hard to end the season on a real high point," he added.

First qualifying for the Valencia Grand Prix takes place on Friday.

 

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