Spaniard Dani Pedrosa of Honda fought hard to set the quickest lap on Wednesday, the second day in pre-season MotoGP testing at Malaysia's Sepang circuit which saw rainfall towards the end of the session.
Pedrosa was first on the timesheet with a fastest lap of 2 minutes 00.549 seconds, while reigning double champion Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha was 0.019 seconds slower, and Honda's star rookie Marc Marquez was 0.254 seconds off the pace.
Italy's nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who is back with Yamaha after two dismal seasons with Italian team Ducati, again ended the day fourth, 0.489 seconds behind Pedrosa.
It was the Honda and Yamaha foursome that continued to top the timesheet although the gap to the rest of the field is narrowing.
Pedrosa continued to test parts for engine durability, while Lorenzo was close on his tail with his new chassis and engine upgrades.
Spain's Marquez continued to impress as is Rossi, who is also putting in consistent times as he gets reacquainted with his Yamaha machine after a two-year absence.
Pedrosa, a three-time championship runner-up who is still looking for his first world crown, told reporters at the end of the day that he concentrated on the weight balance settings on his bike.
"Yes, lap time is okay. (But) the bike is not ready for maximum push. It is not done yet but we are on it. I did one lap in the afternoon and the rain came," he said.
Meanwhile a smiling Marquez who managed to stay ahead of Rossi for two straight days said that he was happy to set constant lap times.
"Today I tried to understand the electronics control on the bike. The Honda team tried to help me. Sure it is a surprise to be in front of Rossi," he said.
"But we are in the pre-season testing. The position is not important. This is only the first test."
Lorenzo, who is in the hunt for another successful MotoGP year, was worried about his acceleration out of corners.
"Well I am happy today," he said but "we still could not solve the problem with the acceleration."
Lorenzo, however, said the strong point of the Yamaha was its powerful braking, resulting in the bike being competitive with his rival Pedrosa.
The first test session ends on Thursday. The second test session will be held at Sepang from February 26 to 28. The third session will be held in Jerez from March 23 to 25.
The opening round of the MotoGP world championship will be in Qatar under floodlights on April 7. Malaysia will host round 15 on October 13.