The opening MotoGP test session of 2013 has finished in Sepang today, with the final timesheets showing a hint of a tantalising season ahead.
Dani Pedrosa drew first blood of the winter testing campaign after topping the timesheets on each day. The Repsol Honda rider improved to a 2.01.000 in searing heat and humidity today to edge out reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo by just 0.329s.
Making a prediction on the outcome of the 2013 season looks to be futile at best with little to choose between Pedrosa and Lorenzo, who won 13 races between them in 2012, throughout the entire test.
Encouragingly for fans of Valentino Rossi, the remarks he made about being back on 'his' bike seem to be holding true after the Italian legend posted another solid set of times that left him just 0.113s behind factory Yamaha teammate Lorenzo and just over 0.4s behind Pedrosa's best pace.
Perhaps more tellingly, the rejuvenated 33-year-old easily outpaced Nicky Hayden and his factory Ducati Andrea Dovizioso, who got a stark reminder of the task he faces to make the unruly Desmosedici competitive by finishing over two seconds off the pace.
Hopefully putting to bed all previous rumours and distractions over his performances last year in Moto2, Marc Marquez posted another excellent set of times to add to those in his previous two sessions. The Spanish teenager was fourth quickest and he escaped injury in a crash when he lost the front-end of his factory Honda RC213CV at the final corner earlier today.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Crutchlow was the top non-factory rider, with his fastest time of 2.00.734 placing him in fifth but less than a hundredth-of-a-second behind Marquez. Bradley Smith was eighth overall and only 1.831s off the best time at the end of the test.
Michael Laverty too had a great run out on the Paul Bird ART machine and he was the second fastest CRT rider on a morale-boosting MotoGP debut.
Only Aspar rider Aleix Espargaro was faster as the Irishman was faster than the likes of Randy de Puniet, Colin Edwards and teammate Yonny Hernandez.
For full results click the image alongside this article.