Pedrosa fastest as Rossi returns

Dani Pedrosa was fastest in opening practice at the Sachsenring, while Valentino Rossi commenced his comeback with seventh place

Pedrosa fastest as Rossi returns

Rossi's return was inevitably the main point of interest in the session, and he was on the pace from the outset, holding fourth initially, just a tenth off the early benchmarks set by Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo.

Although Rossi did not join in the late quick runs and therefore fell to seventh, he still completed a highly encouraging 29 laps and was within 0.723 seconds of the pace.

At the front, the three leading teams all had spells on top, suggesting a very open weekend is in prospect. In the end it came down to a head to head between Pedrosa (Honda) and Stoner (Ducati), with the Spaniard moving 0.4s clear of the pack with 13 minutes to go.

Stoner closed in, but Pedrosa was able to go quicker again, ultimately setting three laps that would have stood as the best of the hour and ending on a 1m22.521s, 0.2s ahead of Stoner.

Both works Ducati were in the top three, with Nicky Hayden making a late jump to third.

Others to improve in the closing minutes were Tech 3 Yamaha's Ben Spies and Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli, who surged to fourth and fifth ahead of the two factory Yamahas.

Andrea Dovizioso missed the opening part of the session with mechanical problems on his Honda and was only 10th, behind Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) and Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda).

Both Pramac Ducatis and Hector Barbera's Aspar example held top 10 positions for a while, but amid a flurry of quick times late on, all were pushed back to the midfield.

Although Alex de Angelis was slowest as he returned to MotoGP to deputise for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama at Interwetten Honda, he was only 1.580s off the pace in the tightly-packed field.

Pos Rider Team Time Gap 1. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m22.521s 2. Casey Stoner Ducati 1m22.795s + 0.274s 3. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m22.983s + 0.462s 4. Ben Spies Tech 3 Yamaha 1m23.189s + 0.668s 5. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m23.204s + 0.683s 6. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m23.224s + 0.703s 7. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m23.244s + 0.723s 8. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 1m23.260s + 0.739s 9. Marco Melandri Gresini Honda 1m23.290s + 0.769s 10. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m23.400s + 0.879s 11. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 1m23.422s + 0.901s 12. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati 1m23.430s + 0.909s 13. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m23.440s + 0.919s 14. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1m23.589s + 1.068s 15. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m23.599s + 1.078s 16. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m24.020s + 1.499s 17. Alex de Angelis Interwetten Honda 1m24.101s + 1.580s 
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