Valentino Rossi may have chosen to sit out the wet opening morning at Jerez, but the reigning six time MotoGP world champion was instantly fast when he made his belated 2009 Jerez debut - and soon knocked Casey Stoner from the top.
However, Rossi in turn lost out to Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in the closing stages - the Italian finishing the day just 0.070sec behind his fellow M1 rider, but feeling happy and confident heading into Sunday's BMW shootout.
“It's been a good day,” began Valentino. “Unfortunately this morning it rained but in the end it didn't matter so much because the grip was good this afternoon with the new asphalt and we were able to do some important work. I had a good feeling with my M1 in November and it was the same today and I was able to do a lot of laps in a good rhythm.
“In the end we used the softer of the two Bridgestone tyres to try to improve the time and I was able to do a 39, but I was fast with the harder tyre as well. We tried a lot of different things on the bike and I am feeling confident and happy; already today we've got through half our workload so hopefully tomorrow morning the weather can be good so we can get through the other half and then be free to focus on winning the car in the afternoon. There are one or two places on the track where I'm not at 100%, but we will try to fix that in the morning.”
“All the Yamahas seems to be going very well and this is a sign that our engineers have done a very good job; it is very encouraging,” said team manager Davide Brivio. “Tomorrow we have some small adjustments and tests to do, and then we will try for the award. I think it will be quite a special session because it's the first time without qualifying tyres and therefore it will be a real rehearsal for the season. We're looking forward to it!”
Tech 3 Yamaha riders Colin Edwards and James Toseland were fifth and eleventh.