Marc Marquez, seeking to create MotoGP history in Valencia on Sunday with a record 13th win of the season, topped the times in practice on Friday.
The Spaniard, who wrapped up back-to-back world titles in Japan in October, won in Malaysia last time out to equal Australian rider Mick Doohan’s mark of 12 victories in 17 races in a season from 1997.
As well as a record victory on Sunday, the 21-year-old Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa can also deliver Honda back-to-back team and constructors titles in the season’s 18th and final race.
Marquez posted a best time for the combined sessions of 1min 31.296sec, with his compatriot, Jorge Lorenzo, next best on a Yamaha almost two tenths of a second adrift.
“The best thing was how I felt on the bike. Finishing fastest is a reference, but the most important thing is that the pace was good, and we have been improving and testing things out,” said the champion.
“This afternoon the track was a little slower, but we hope to continue improving tomorrow. I’m sure that there will be a nice fight for pole between myself, Jorge, Dani and Valentino.”
In third came the Ducati of Italian Andrea Dovizioso followed by Aleix Espargaro on a Ducati and Pedrosa, the teammate of Marquez.
Lorenzo’s Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi, who has a 12-point lead in the battle for second spot in the championship, was down in seventh spot.
“Today, having a very good pace came easy from the beginning,” said Lorenzo.
The winner in Valencia in 2013 added: “This is the first time this season that I got to ride such a good pace this easily, so I’m very happy about the performance of the bike.
“Now we have to try some things and try to improve, but the pace of the bike is very good and I’m really satisfied.”