The final European MotoGP track action of 2008 ended with Valentino Rossi outpacing Dani Pedrosa by just 0.018sec, during the second and final day of testing at Jerez in Spain.

Home star Pedrosa, who won the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez in April, had put his Repsol Honda 0.610sec clear of nearest rival Rossi on Wednesday, but it was Yamaha's reigning six time MotoGP world champion who got the upper hand on day two.

After a splitting his time 50/50 between the 2008 M1 and a prototype version of the '09 on Wednesday, Rossi spent most of the final day on the '09, working on developing the setting and also trying out some new parts for the engine, amongst other things.

The Italian set his best time of the day on lap 52 of 54 and, whilst recent resurfacing means official lap records are somewhat irrelevant, the #46 nevertheless dipped nearly seven tenths of a second under Pedrosa's race lap record.

"The track was a bit drier today and so we were able to improve even more and do a great job," said Rossi. "We worked a lot on the new bike and tried some different parts to yesterday, including for the engine and we were quite fast.

"It seems we're going in the right direction with this new bike and I am happy about this. I hope that the information we have gathered here will help the engineers to improve the bike and I look forward to the next evolution in Sepang.

"I think these first tests with the one-tyre rule have been quite positive and Bridgestone have done a good job so far, although for sure they will have a difficult job to decide which tyre for which track. Anyway, I hope that we will have some exciting battles next year with everyone at the same level with their tyres."

Whilst Rossi won't be back on a MotoGP bike until the first test of 2009, at Sepang from February 5-7, he doesn't have long to wait for his next taste of competitive action - The Doctor taking part in the final round of the World Rally Championship, Rally GB, from December 5-7.

"Now I am looking forward to some holidays and next week I will go to Wales for the rally, which I hope will be a lot of fun," he said. "It's been a fantastic year and I am really happy I have finished at the top today, it's not a big thing but it gives a good feeling to me and all the team and means we can enjoy our holidays confident that we are in good shape!"

Rossi's team manager Davide Brivio was pleased that a memorable year had ended on a high note.

"This has been a positive test for us, and we have finished the year very well," declared the Italian. "Despite the cold weather allowing us just a few hours to test over these two days, we have been able to go through more or less our entire programme and check everything on the agenda. This means that we have given a lot of valuable information to our Japanese engineers, and this will help them in their development work over the winter.

"Valentino finished fastest today, which is a great conclusion to the year, and shows that we're on the right track with the 2009-prototype M1. Now we have some time for rest and so I would like to thank all of the team once again for their hard work and wish them happy holidays!"

Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was third fastest on both days, the 2008 rookie of the year was 1.638sec behind Pedrosa on day one and 0.997sec from Rossi on day two.

Pedrosa, like Rossi, was using a prototype '09 bike at the test, while Lorenzo used a standard '08 M1 on Wednesday and then an 'evolution' of the '08 on Thursday.

Despite all riders using Bridgestone tyres next year, Fiat Yamaha has confirmed that the wall dividing Rossi and Lorenzo in the pit garage will remain in place next season.

While Yamaha, Ducati and Honda teams were testing at Jerez, Suzuki and Kawasaki have been at Phillip Island in Australia. The Phillip Island test will conclude on Friday.



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