Jarno Trulli snatched the fastest time away from surprise pace-setter Sebastien Buemi in the closing seconds of final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.
As the weather cleared after yesterday's wash-out and gave the teams a chance to complete some dry running, it was Toro Rosso rookie Buemi who emerged as the man to beat.
The Swiss driver looked set to put Toro Rosso at the top of a session result for the first time in 2009, until Trulli gave home team Toyota a boost by grabbing the top spot with his final lap.
After Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Trulli had taken turns on top in the early running, Buemi hit the front after 22 minutes and proceeded to go quicker and quicker.
Using the same hard tyres as everyone else on track, Buemi got down to 1m31.771s and held an advantage of 0.6-0.8s for most of the rest of the morning.
He looked set to stay in front as others failed to get within half a second of his time even on softer tyres, but then Trulli edged ahead by 0.062s with his last flying lap.
Buemi held second, with Williams's Nico Rosberg and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel third and fourth ahead of Raikkonen.
Behind Adrian Sutil's Force India, Rubens Barrichello was two places and 0.2s ahead of Brawn team-mate Jenson Button in seventh place.
Button had an unnerving start to the session when he banged wheels with Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso as he dived to the inside at the hairpin on their out-laps. The points leader escaped with minor front wing damage and was soon back on track, while Alguersuari continued unscathed and finished the session in an impressive 10th place.
While Vettel kept Red Bull in contention at the front, his team-mate Mark Webber ended the session only 19th. The Australian crashed at Degner with six minutes to go and was swiftly pushed down the order as others tried qualifying simulations.
No one else sustained any damage during the session, but Nick Heidfeld spun his BMW under braking for the hairpin and Romain Grosjean's Renault had a quick rotation coming into the chicane.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:31.709 24 2. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:31.771 + 0.062 26 3. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:32.343 + 0.634 28 4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:32.414 + 0.705 19 5. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:32.445 + 0.736 26 6. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:32.467 + 0.758 25 7. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:32.488 + 0.779 24 8. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:32.546 + 0.837 22 9. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1:32.668 + 0.959 25 10. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:32.689 + 0.980 20 11. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:32.717 + 1.008 25 12. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:32.736 + 1.027 21 13. Alonso Renault (B) 1:32.742 + 1.033 21 14. Glock Toyota (B) 1:32.749 + 1.040 26 15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:32.752 + 1.043 23 16. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:32.789 + 1.080 19 17. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:32.848 + 1.139 20 18. Fisichella Ferrari (B) 1:32.878 + 1.169 26 19. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:32.930 + 1.221 15 20. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:33.167 + 1.458 18 All timing unofficial