The Desmosedicis have once again dominated the top speed charts throughout the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, with only Honda's Dani Pedrosa able to prevent a perfect top four sweep of every session - the Spaniard clocking the second fastest top speed during Friday afternoon.

However, riders are much more wary of giving a tow to their opponents in qualifying - producing a more realistic indication of ultimate engine performance along the huge 1.2km back straight, the longest in MotoGP - and it was under those circumstances that the Desmosedicis were once again unchallenged.

Factory rider Marco Melandri was fastest of all, setting a 327.6km/h (203.6mph), with Sylvain Guintoli second on 327.1km/h (203.3mph) - indicating there is little difference in engine output between the factory and satellite machines. Then came world champion Casey Stoner with 324.0km/h (201.3mph) and Guintoli's Alice team-mate Toni Elias 321.9km/h (200.0mph).

The leading non-Ducati was Valentino Rossi's factory Yamaha, which reached 318.5km/h (197.9mph), followed by pole sitter Colin Edwards, whose Michelin-shod Tech 3 Yamaha hit 317.8 km/h (197.5mph).

Despite qualifying last on the grid, Anthony West's Kawasaki was the next fastest with 316.6km/h (196.7mph) - a speed 2.8km/h higher than team-mate John Hopkins, who was only 15th quickest through the speed trap.

The top Honda was the Bridgestone-shod satellite machine of Shinya Nakano, in ninth (316.5km/h), with the diminutive Pedrosa unsurprisingly the first of the Repsol factory bikes - but in a disappointing eleventh (315.7km/h) on the list.

Of the slowest eight bikes in qualifying, five were Hondas, suggesting that the RC212V's spring-valve engine is struggling in that department against its desmodromic/pneumatic valve rivals, although Suzuki looks to need the most top speed progress.

Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi were 16th and 17th out of the 18 riders in terms of qualifying top speed, with a best of 311.9km/h and 311.8km/h respectively. Only Andrea Dovizioso's satellite Honda was slower than the GSV-Rs.

Of course, top speed is only one factor that contributes to overall lap time, as illustrated by Capirossi qualifying in sixth position and Melandri only twelfth, but it's the 'simplest' way for a rider to go faster - and makes overtaking much easier in the race.

The fastest top speed in any session so far this weekend is 329.4km/h (204.7mph) by Stoner in FP1, while the highest top speed ever recorded in MotoGP is 343.7km/h (213.6mph) set by Makoto Tamada, on a 990cc Honda, during qualifying at Shanghai in 2006.