Repsol Honda's pre-season dream of filling all three places on the podium in at least one MotoGP race could happen at Motegi this weekend, if Friday practice form is anything to go by.
Team-mates Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso held the top three places after Friday's pair of track sessions at the Honda-owned Motegi circuit, with Gresini's Marco Simoncelli creating an all-RCV top four just behind them.
Pedrosa put his injury demons from the 2010 Motegi event to rest by moving to the top in the afternoon session, the Spaniard's best lap being almost four tenths faster than the circuit record.
"We did a good job today; in the morning we took a good direction and this allowed us to improve a lot in the afternoon, by a second, and this is very important," said Pedrosa.
"Tomorrow we have to focus on the set up of the bike; maybe the weather will change a little bit, so we have to be aware of the conditions and try to be fast anytime. In case it does rain tomorrow and we cannot practice anymore in dry conditions, we already have a good set up for the dry."
Lap times improved from last year due to the new surface which was laid after damage was caused to the Motegi track during the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.
"Everybody here at the Motegi circuit has done a very good job with the new surface, the grip is much better than before and this is one of the reasons why the lap times have improved quite a lot already from last year," confirmed Pedrosa.
Championship leader Stoner, the winner in 2010, was just 0.054sec slower than Pedrosa.
"The bike felt pretty good this morning and then this afternoon we started the session on pretty much the same setting that we ended on this morning, it felt ok but we felt we could improve," said Stoner, who holds a confident 44-point advantage over Jorge Lorenzo with four rounds to go.
"Unfortunately we went in slightly the wrong direction and couldn't get the bike to turn or hook up on the last two exits and then we didn't really have enough time to come in and make a change.
"We know what direction we want to go in now and hopefully tomorrow we can make the small improvements. The new surface here feels very good, very smooth and the grip level is impressive."
Dovizioso, who took the pole position last year, completed a top three covered by just 0.162sec.
"I am very happy with today's sessions," he confirmed. "All the Honda riders are constantly fast and we are all very close. The new tarmac is ok, but totally different feeling from last season, it's still bumpy, even more then before, but anyway we are faster then in 2010. The feeling with the tyres is totally different due to the new tarmac and the biggest problem is to find rear grip entering corners, this is the area where we will concentrate our efforts for tomorrow"
Simoncelli was two tenths behind Dovizioso, with Lorenzo (Yamaha) the top non-Honda in fifth place, 0.520sec from Pedrosa.
As well as setting the fastest lap times of the day, the three Repsol Honda riders also led the top speed charts.