Dani Pedrosa looks to have shattered the official MotoGP
top speed record by reaching a claimed 349.3km/h (217.1mph) on his Repsol Honda during Friday free practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.
"It's clearly a fast straight here, although I didn't think the top speed was that high until I saw it on the timing screens," said Pedrosa. "Still, top speed is not the most important thing so I'm not really worried about the record - the lap time is more critical."
The previous official top speed record for a motorcycle grand prix machine was 343.7km/h (213.6mph) set by Makoto Tamada, on a 990cc Honda, during qualifying at Shanghai in 2006.
However, Friday's speeds must be confirmed by timing specialists at Dorna after small differences were found in the results produced by the telemetric systems on some bikes.
Assuming the figures released were correct, Ducati rider Mika Kallio
(348.1km/h) and Yamaha's Valentino Rossi
(344.3km/h) also beat Tamada's record on Friday, during a session that saw ten riders listed above the 340km/h (211mph) mark.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was a 342.2km/h by Marco Melandri
on his Hayate-run Kawasaki ZX-RR, good enough for sixth out of the 17 riders. Among those the Italian beat on top speed was Ducati's Casey Stoner
(340.6km/h), who was ranked ninth.
While Honda, Yamaha and Ducati were all evenly matched at the top, Suzuki still appears to be lacking relative to its rivals. The highest GSV-R top speed, by Loris Capirossi, was 339.8km/h - only good enough for eleventh. Team-mate Chris Vermeulen
was 16th with 335.5km/h.
The slowest top speed was a 329.2km/h by Tech 3 Yamaha's James Toseland.
Pedrosa was fourth fastest in the Friday practice session, 0.938sec behind pace setter Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo was fifth in terms of top speed with 342.4km/h.
The highest official 990cc top speed at Mugello was 343km/h (213.1mph) set by Alex Barros
on a factory Honda during the 2004 race.
Limiting top speed had been the main reason given for changing to 800cc engines in 2007.