Ben Spies finished top Yamaha at the end of opening practice at the Sachsenring today after another impressive performance from the Texan.
The reigning World Superbike champion quickly mastered the tight, twisty and undulating Sachsenring circuit to set the fourth best time to finish ahead of runaway world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.
Spies opted to learn the circuit using the hard compound rear Bridgestone tyre and he recovered well after an early off-track excursion.
But once he switched to the softer option rear tyre he is likely to select for Sunday’s 30-lap race as track temperature hit a sizzling 55 degrees, he was immediately able to surge up the leaderboard and catapult himself into contention for a top five.
Just five minutes remained when Spies clocked his best time of 1.23.189 and it was only a late attack from fellow American Nicky Hayden that denied the 25-year-old a stunning top three position.
Spies was just 0.206s behind Hayden.
Spies said: “I’m really happy to be so high up after the first session and I think I figured out this track pretty quickly.
"It is good to start the weekend in the top five and that gives us a platform to build on. This circuit pretty tight and twisty and there are a lot of left-hand corners but I like it because there is quite a lot of elevation that makes it fun.
"It felt like being out on a dirt track bike and I see Nicky is right up there too. If the weather isn’t as good tomorrow I’m really glad that I got going today and was able to get a feel for the track but also put in some fast lap times.
"I went out on the hard tyre, which I don’t think I’m going to race on, just to learn the track and when I put the softer tyre on I was able to go quite a bit faster.
"There are a couple of places where I can improve like the left-handers before the fast right downhill section but it was a decent start.
"I’m pretty sure already that I’ll race the soft tyre but we’ll see. I’m sure I can do the times on the hard tyre but we’ll have to see what the conditions are like.”