Reigning MotoGP champion and 2009 title leader Valentino Rossi admitted that the one month break since Misano had left him a little rusty during day one of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Italian finished Friday practice in third place, 0.421sec behind Fiat Yamaha team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo, but just 0.062secs adrift of Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa.

"This is quite a difficult track to come back to after a long break because the braking is very hard and it's quite stressful on the arms, but I think it will be better tomorrow," explained Rossi, who holds a 30 point lead over Lorenzo with four rounds to go.

"We have a slight problem in the balance of the bike in these hard braking areas which we need to work on tomorrow to find a way to improve; we're already quite fast but we need to close the gap a bit more so we will make the most of our time tomorrow so that we're in good shape for qualifying," he added.

"It looks like we have as bit of work to do but we're not too far away," commented team manager Daniele Romagnoli. "We also had the possibility to check all the tyres and so it was a good session as far as gathering information is concerned. We could have done with a few more laps at the end to check a couple of different settings, but this isn't a big problem and we will have time to do this tomorrow."

Rossi and Lorenzo are riding in a special silver and white Fiat Punto Evo livery this weekend.