Valentino Rossi made a flying start to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend by dominating Friday free practice at Jerez, round three of the 2009 world championship and the start of the European season.

The Italian - second in the first two rounds of the season - had been left standing in the Fiat Yamaha pits at the start of the session after a technical problem, but was soon holding second behind Casey Stoner - then led an M1 one-two in front of team-mate Jorge Lorenzo after 15 minutes of the 45 minute session.

Thereafter Rossi kept his advantage at over half a second from his nearest rival - Lorenzo, Colin Edwards and then Stoner - before Loris Capirossi vaulted up the order to second with a best lap time 0.364sec from Rossi inside the final minute.

The Rizla Suzuki rider, desperate to prove the potential of the new GSV-R, remained the only rider within half a second of Rossi, with third placed Stoner 0.621sec from the #46 on his factory Ducati.

Rossi's best lap was a 1min 39.647sec, which compares with a fastest lap in last month's Jerez test of 1min 38.646sec by Stoner. Dani Pedrosa's best race lap, set on his way to victory in last year's event, was a 1min 40.116sec, but the Jerez circuit has been completely resurfaced since the 2008 event.

World championship leader Lorenzo, who beat Rossi last time out at Motegi, finished the session in fourth position, 0.794sec behind Rossi, with Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso fifth and the final rider within one second of Rossi.

Edwards slipped from second to sixth for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, with fellow satellite rider Randy de Puniet a solid seventh for LCR Honda.

Chris Vermeulen put the second Suzuki into eighth, just ahead of Marco Melandri who had been running top six early in the session for Hayate.

Pedrosa was brought back down to earth after his surprise Motegi podium with tenth in free practice, with James Toseland making late progress to claim eleventh for Tech 3.

Former Jerez winner Sete Gibernau was twelfth on his first grand prix session at the circuit since 2006, with Alex de Angelis the lead Gresini Honda rider in 13th - rookie Mika Kallio putting his Pramac Ducati just ahead of the factory RCV of Toni Elias.

Stoner's team-mate Nicky Hayden was just 17th fastest, ahead of only rookie Niccolo Canepa and just behind fellow newcomer Yuki Takahashi - who took Hayden out on lap one of last weekend's Motegi race.

Qualifying takes place on Saturday.

Friday practice:

1. Rossi
2. Capirossi
3. Stoner
4. Lorenzo
5. Dovizioso
6. Edwards
7. de Puniet
8. Vermeulen
9. Melandri
10. Pedrosa
11. Toseland
12. Gibernau
13. de Angelis
14. Kallio
15. Elias
16. Takahashi
17. Hayden
18. Canepa


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