MotoGP world championship leader Valentino Rossi was left sixth fastest in Friday practice at Le Mans, after rain halfway through the newly extended one-hour session brought a premature end to competitive lap times.
Rossi, who led a Yamaha one-two-three at Le Mans last season, recorded 14 laps before the weather turned for the worse and, although left 0.615sec behind fastest man Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), felt he was making progress.
“We always seem to have bad luck with the weather here!” said the reigning six-time MotoGP champion, chasing his 99th grand prix victory this weekend. “The conditions weren't easy today, it was quite cold and the track wasn't so good, and then it rained and so we couldn't use all of the session.
“It was still useful to get some laps done in the dry though, even if we couldn't learn as much as we would have liked to today.
"Every lap has its own small problems and during the first rain break we made some modifications to our setting and actually I was quite confident that we were on the right track.
“We hoped to get a few more laps before the end of the session once the rain stopped but unfortunately it started again and so we had no real chance to check our work. We know we're fast in the rain but I prefer it dry... the problem is that you never know with Le Mans, the weather seems to change every five minutes!”
Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was a further 0.273sec adrift of his team-mate to claim joint seventh with Marco Melandri.
“It's a pity about the rain because we needed the time today, but this is the situation so we have to deal with it,” said the Spaniard, second at Le Mans last season. “I just hope it doesn't continue.
“At least we had some dry track time but the situation of the track wasn't so good and I was quite slow. We need time at each circuit to learn how our bike works with the Bridgestone tyres and we didn't really have enough time today, but we will keep trying tomorrow and hopefully we can improve our pace,” added the #99.