Reigning double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner waited until his 54th and final lap to take the top spot during day one of the final pre-season test at a windy Jerez, Spain.
Fastest in the two previous 2012 pre-season outings, at Sepang in Malaysia, the Australian spent much of the day behind the Factory Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies, plus his own Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
But normal service was resumed with less than half an hour remaining, when Stoner and his new RC213V jumped to the top with a lap time of 1m 39.146s. That put Stoner 0.273sec clear of Lorenzo, but was nearly half-a-second outside of his 800cc pole from last year's event.
Lorenzo, winner of last year's damp race, set his best on the 46th of his 76 laps - a lap tally only just beaten by Ducati's Nicky Hayden (77). Lorenzo set more sub-1m 40s laps than any other rider; ten compared with five for Stoner.
Fellow Spaniard Pedrosa, pace setter in the early stages, finished up 0.433sec behind Stoner, with Spies the fourth and final rider under the 1m 40s mark.
Leading satellite rider, Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow, made it three M1s in the top five (+0.984s), with Hayden heading the Ducati challenge in sixth (+1.366s).
New San Carlo Honda Gresini signing Alvaro Bautista was a fraction slower on his way to seventh, despite a fall, with Crutchlow's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso 1.5sec from Stoner in eighth.
Seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, openly dejected after Sepang II, suffered another tough day with his best time only good enough for ninth and 1.774sec from Stoner. Rossi is again struggling with front-end cornering issues, despite radical changes made to the Desmosedici since last year.
Class rookie and reigning Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl completed the top ten for LCR Honda (+1.837s).
The first of the new 'Claiming Rule Team' machines finished the day in eleventh place, with Aspar's Randy de Puniet putting his Aprilia (ART) a competitive 1.8sec from Stoner - ahead of the satellite Ducatis of Hector Barber and Karel Abraham.