Mika Kallio led a Marc VDS Kalex one-two as the second official 2014 Moto2 test came to a close at Jerez on Thursday evening.
Fastest on day one of the opening test at Valencia, Kallio returned to the top courtesy of a 1m 42.169s lap on the final Thursday afternoon session at Jerez.
That put the Finn just 0.064s clear of new team-mate Esteve Rabat, but half-a-second under the official Moto2 pole record.
“The first two days we confirmed the settings we tested in Valencia, keeping our preferred tyres for the race and qualifying simulations today,” Kallio explained. “In the race simulation I was happy with my speed and consistency, with my best and worst laps separated by just half a second.
“In the qualifying simulation I finally had the feeling that was missing last year - the feeling of being on the limit. I knew I was on a fast lap, but it's always good to see it confirmed on timesheet, especially when your name is on the top!
“Okay, it's only testing, but it all builds confidence ahead of the first race.”
Quickest at the Valencia test, Rabat looked set to repeat the feat, after finally ousting day two pace setter Thomas Luthi from the number one slot with a time of 1m 42.223s. But shortly after calling a halt to testing, the 24-year-old Spaniard had to sit and watch as his team-mate denied him the top spot.
“It's been a good test for us, as we've managed to test a lot of things on the bike over the three days. Each time we've made a small step, but always in the right direction, constantly improving the bike and the lap time,” said Rabat.
Kallio and Rabat will now head to Australia, where they will be among a select group of MotoGP and Moto2 riders to participate in a tyre test at Phillip Island from 3-5 March. The other Moto2 riders will return to Jerez for their final official test from March 11-13, ahead of the first race of the season in Qatar.
“We still have some things to try in Phillip Island next month, mainly tyres and fairings, but I'm happy with where we're at right now,” commented Rabat. “The aim during testing was always to build towards the first race in Qatar and that's exactly what we've done here at Jerez and in Valencia last week.”
Top Suter rider Luthi also improved on the final day, which began shrouded in fog, to finish the test just 0.084s from Kallio in third.
Takaaki Nakagami (Honda Team Asia Kalex) took fourth (+0.296s) with a further 0.382s gap to Alex de Angelis (Tasca Racing Suter).
Former Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact Grand Prix Kalex) was 0.003s slower than the Sammarinese, with World Supersport champion and top Speed Up rider Sam Lowes in turn just 0.001s behind Cortese for seventh overall.
The top twelve riders were all within one second of Kallio, while - unlike in Moto3 - the top 14 riders set their best lap time of the test on the third and final day.
Aside from top rookie Lowes, Simone Corsi was the only other non-Kalex or Suter in the top ten. The Italian claimed tenth place (+0.845s) on the new 'Forward KLX' chassis - based on last year's Kalex. Forward Racing had missed the previous Valencia test.
Marcel Schrotter led the Tech 3 challenge in 14th, with a best lap time 1.040s from Kallio. Just behind was the leading Caterham Suter of Johann Zarco (+1.047s), whose team-mate and reigning AMA Superbike champion Josh Herrin was ranked 26th, but within 1.6s of the front.
The sole TSR entry of new JiR rider Tetsuta Nagashima was 29th out of the 33 riders.