Marco Melandri heads into the remainder of the Motorland Aragon weekend as the man to bear after dominating free practice and first qualifying around the Spanish circuit.
The Yamaha rider fended off a challenge from championship leader Carlos Checa to emerge as the only rider to dip below 2mins, his effort of 1min 59.726secs coming in the final minutes.
Slightly quicker than his lap time from free practice, it was four tenths better than Checa could manage in second position, the championship leader just ahead of Noriyuki Haga, who shrugged off an earlier accident to catapult from last to third late on.
Leon Camier was the factory Aprilia's quickest representative once more in fourth, while Kawasaki's Tom Sykes ended a productive day in fifth having occupied second position for much of the session.
Max Biaggi was three tenths slower than key rival Checa in sixth place, ahead of Ayrton Badovini, the satellite BMW rider once again the fastest of the four S1000RRs in the field. Eugene Laverty ended his day in ninth, with Maxime Berger a strong tenth on the Supersonic Ducati.
Further back, BMW Motorrad's tough start to the weekend continued with Troy Corser in 12th and Leon Haslam in 14th, while Effenbert-Liberty Ducati had its two riders down in 17th and 20th, Sylvain Guintoli ahead of Jakub Smrz.