Valentino Rossi made his best start to a 2009 grand prix weekend with a dominant performance during Friday practice for round three at Jerez.
Second at the first two races of the season, the Italian's hopes of joining Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo as a 2009 MotoGP winner on Sunday were given a boost when only Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi could get within half a second of the Fiat Yamaha rider.
Rossi's M1 had refused to start at the beginning of the session, but the reigning six time MotoGP champion was soon out on track and took less than 15 minutes to lead the standings.
Third placed Casey Stoner was ultimately left 0.621sec from Rossi, with world championship leader Lorenzo 0.794sec from the top in fourth position around the resurfaced Spanish Grand Prix circuit.
“Today there's no prize, like at the test here, but anyway it's really good for our work to start in such a positive way,” admitted Rossi. “During the first two races we've had a couple of small problems and today we made a change in our setting in order to improve things and straight away we could see it was working.
“I could ride how I wanted with both the soft Bridgestone tyre and the hard one, and I was the fastest for the whole session.
"It's very hot today, which is for sure better than the rain of recent races but it means if it's like this on Sunday then the race will be quite hard on the tyres, so tomorrow we need to concentrate on refining our setting to help them as much as possible," he added.
Rossi had been unable to pinpoint why he couldn't keep pace with Lorenzo last weekend, but his Fiat Yamaha team manager Davide Brivio felt they 'found something good' on Friday.
“We focused on trying a few different settings with the bike and looking at improving the overall balance based on our experience from the first two races, and it looks like we've found something good,” said Brivio. “We will continue to evaluate this tomorrow and hopefully we will then be set for the race.”
Second free practice and qualifying takes place on Saturday.