Dani Pedrosa dominated the opening MotoGP practice session at Sepang, finishing comfortably clear of Honda team-mate Casey Stoner and championship rival Jorge Lorenzo.
The Spaniard, who captured pole for last year's abandoned race, was the first rider to dip into the 2m01s bracket. With a quarter of the session to run he had worked his way down to a 2m01.621s, at the time putting him almost half a second clear of Stoner and Lorenzo.
It wasn't until the final two minutes that the pair were able to close that gap, although neither was able to really threaten Pedrosa's benchmark.
Stoner, in his second race weekend following his return from injury, came closest, eventually ending the session 0.152sec down. Lorenzo meanwhile clocked a 2m01.934s on his penultimate tour, just over three tenths down on his title rival.
While Stoner's form suggests he could be a factor in Sunday's race, Lorenzo can still clinch the title by simply finishing third in the remaining three races, regardless of what Pedrosa manages.
Fourth and fifth went to the Tech 3 Yamaha pair of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, the Italian edging the intra-team battle by three hundredths of a second. Both riders finished more than six tenths down on Pedrosa, however. Ben Spies on the second works Yamaha claimed sixth ahead of LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl, the last rider to get within one second of Pedrosa.
Ducati's Nicky Hayden edged out Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista, third last weekend at Motegi, for eighth, while Pramac's Hector Barbera beat the second works Ducati of Valentino Rossi to 10th.
Rossi, winner of the last grand prix here in 2010, was more than 1.6sec off the ultimate pace.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Dani Pedrosa Honda 2m01.621s
2. Casey Stoner Honda 2m01.773s + 0.152s
3. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2m01.934s + 0.313s
4. Andrea Dovizioso Tech 3 Yamaha 2m02.236s + 0.615s
5. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 2m02.266s + 0.645s
6. Ben Spies Yamaha 2m02.358s + 0.737s
7. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 2m02.617s + 0.996s
8. Nicky Hayden Ducati 2m02.754s + 1.133s
9. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 2m02.872s + 1.251s
10. Hector Barbera Pramac Ducati 2m03.221s + 1.600s
11. Valentino Rossi Ducati 2m03.274s + 1.653s
12. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 2m04.624s + 3.003s
13. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 2m05.029s + 3.408s
14. Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 2m05.077s + 3.456s
15. Colin Edwards Forward Suter-BMW 2m05.387s + 3.766s
16. Michele Pirro Gresini FTR-Honda 2m06.058s + 4.437s
17. James Ellison Paul Bird Aprilia 2m06.452s + 4.831s
18. Roberto Rolfo Speed Master Aprilia 2m06.470s + 4.849s
19. Yonny Hernandez Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 2m07.257s + 5.636s
20. Ivan Silva Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 2m07.291s + 5.670s
21. Danilo Petrucci Ioda Suter-BMW 2m07.818s + 6.197s