Hector Barbera, winner of the season opening Qatar Grand Prix and on pole for the last two events, was back on top of the timesheets during 250cc free practice for the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.

After an earlier rainstorm, the hour-long session took place in dry but overcast conditions and ended with Barbera's Pepe World Aprilia 0.461sec clear of reigning world champion Marco Simoncelli's Metis Gilera.

Mattia Pasini was a fraction slower in third for Team Toth with fellow Aprilia rider Alex Debon rounding out a top four covered by 0.530sec.

World championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama was seventh for Scot Honda with title rival Alvaro Bautista, who crashed after hitting the back of Aoyama last time out at Assen, only eleventh.

The Aspar challenge was thus led by 125cc world champion Mike di Meglio in fifth.

Friday practice - Sachsenring:

1. Barbera (Aprilia) 1min 24.951sec
2. Simoncelli (Gilera) +0.461sec
3. Pasini (Aprilia) +0.464sec
4. Debon (Aprilia) +0.530sec
5. di Meglio (Aprilia) +0.542sec
6. Locatelli (Gilera) +0.579sec
7. Aoyama (Honda) +0.769sec
8. Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.820sec
9. Wilairot (Honda) +0.862sec
10. Abraham (Aprilia) +0.883sec

23. Markham (Honda) +5.311sec