Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa took the modified RC212V chassis, which Dovizioso had used to top the Catalunya post-race test, to a close fifth and sixth in Thursday's free practice session at Assen.

Dovizioso had been third with five minutes to go, before being relegated to fifth - albeit 0.250sec from fastest man Randy de Puniet, on a satellite LCR Honda.

"The final result from the session was pretty reasonable - fifth place and two tenths from the front is a decent start," said Dovi. "We'll be looking to make some more improvements tomorrow though because I'm not totally satisfied with how the practice went and we struggled a little to find a good feeling with the bike, in particular under braking and on corner entry.

"Now we'll analyse the data and come up with a plan for tomorrow, possibly working with the weight distribution to improve the set-up. It was actually quite a difficult practice session for me because I wasn't feeling too well, so I'll get checked out at the Clinica Mobile and be ready for tomorrow," he revealed.

Pedrosa topped the timesheets twice during the session as he narrowed down his set-up options ahead of the 26-lap race on Saturday. Though he finished in sixth position, the 23-year-old rode without hindrance from his recovering hip injury and looks in good shape to have a competitive weekend.

"Riding felt much better today than it did at the last race in Barcelona which is a positive sign," said Dani, who sat out the Catalunya test to rest his latest injuries. "Even without any painkilling injection I was able to ride with quite a good pace this afternoon so I'm very happy about that.

"Now, after riding, it doesn't feel great and I have some pain, but that's to be expected. With some ice on it and some rest tonight, I'm expecting to feel in good shape for tomorrow's sessions.

"The feeling with the new chassis is good and I immediately felt much more comfortable than in Barcelona. I still need to learn more about the new chassis, but the initial feeling is positive, with improvements under braking and stability," he declared.