Still seeking his first MotoGP win of the year, reigning champion Valentino Rossi dominated the opening free practice session here at the Spanish round at Jerez with a lap in 1m 39.647s on the Fiat Yamaha.
Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi made a scorching effort on the 2.75-mile circuit, and this rewarded him with second-fastest place, 0.364s behind Rossi.
Casey Stoner lapped the Marlboro Ducati third fastest, and championship leader Jorge Lorenzo completed the provisional front row on his Fiat Yamaha, with a lap 0.794s slower than his team-mate’s best.
This will be the first grand prix of the year at which riders can evaluate tyres in consistent conditions all the way from first practice to the race, following two rain-affected GPs at Qatar and Japan.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha) completed the top six fastest riders.
Britain’s James Toseland, battling to find form after winter testing crashes, finished 11th fastest, with a lap in 1m 41.461s, 1.814s off Rossi’s pace.
1. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 1min 39.647 sec
2. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1min 40.011 sec
3. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 40.268 sec
4. Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha Team 1min 40.441 sec
5. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 1min 40.601 sec
6. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1min 40.703 sec
7. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP 1min 40.866 sec
8. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1min 41.063 sec
9. Marco Melandri ITA Hayate Racing Team 1min 41.182 sec
10. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 1min 41.208 sec
11. James Toseland GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1min 41.461 sec
12. Sete Gibernau SPA Grupo Francisco Hernando 1min 41.531 sec
13. Alex de Angelis RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini 1min 41.557 sec
14. Mika Kallio FIN Pramac Racing 1min 41.584 sec
15. Toni Elias SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1min 41.736 sec
16. Yuki Takahashi JPN Scot Racing Team MotoGP 1min 41.898 sec
17. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 41.916 sec
18. Niccolo Canepa ITA Pramac Racing 1min 42.063 sec