Casey Stoner returned to the top of the timesheets as one of only a handful of riders to make an improvement on their time towards the end of MotoGP testing at Sepang.

Completing the three-day test with a best lap of 2mins 01.043secs, Stoner and Valentino Rossi moved ahead of morning pace setter Loris Capirossi to set the stage for what promises to be another season of close rivalry.

Less than a tenth would separate the two sparring partners as they lowered their best lap times during the afternoon session by four and three tenths respectively, the pair managing it with their very final laps.

It was Stoner though that had the edge, the Australian's effort making him the quickest rider over the three days, despite the pain in his wrist that has prevented him from completing anything more than short bursts of laps.

Although relegated to third position, Capirossi and Suzuki come away from Malaysia in high spirits after providing Stoner and Rossi with consistently their closest competition throughout the weekend.

Satellite riders continued to give their factory counterparts something to think about for the third day in a row, as Colin Edwards and Toni Elias hauled their respective Tech 3 Yamaha and Gresini Honda machines up to the fourth and fifth quickest times, ahead of Chris Vermeulen on the Suzuki.

Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo made some progress in seventh position as he continues to get acquainted with Bridgestone rubber, while Andrea Dovizioso, riding the sole Repsol Honda machine after Dani Pedrosa's decision to finish early, was eighth quickest after choosing against completing a race simulation.

Pramac's Mika Kallio made his first appearance inside the top ten in ninth position, ahead of Nicky Hayden, who brought his first proper test with Ducati to a somewhat underwhelming conclusion in tenth.

Satellite riders made up the remainder of the positions, with Alex de Angelis getting the better of Sete Gibernau in 11th and 12th, ahead of Randy de Puniet, Yuki Takahashi, Niccolo Canepa and James Toseland, the latter no doubt still feeling the effects from his crash on day one of testing.



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