Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa clocked the third fastest practice time at Phillip Island on Friday, just under half a second behind pace setter Valentino Rossi.

It was a promising start for the 24-year-old Spaniard, although the rider he is seeking to defend third in the world championship from - home hero Casey Stoner - was second on Friday, 0.361sec in front of Pedrosa.

"Finally we were lucky with the weather today and it's very good to start here in Phillip Island with a dry session and reasonable track temperatures," said Pedrosa. "It allowed us to complete some useful testing with the Bridgestone tyres and, although the surface was a little dusty, grip should improve through the weekend.

"We tried both the softer and harder tyre compounds today and it'll be an important choice for Sunday because the 4pm race start means the temperature could be low. So we need to analyse carefully how fast the tyres will warm up, especially on the left side because there are so many left-handers here.

"I'm pretty happy with how this first practice has gone and I'm sure the times will fall further tomorrow, weather permitting."

Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso shrugged off the effects of an upset stomach to claim eighth place.

"It was good to get out on track today because Phillip Island is a fantastic circuit and riding here is always a great challenge," said the Italian. "The track demands a completely different machine set-up and balance for the Bridgestone tyres and we haven't achieved that quite yet so I'm hoping for some improvements tomorrow - we have a few areas to work on.

"We started today with our machine set a bit too hard and, although we made things softer through the practice, I think we'll make things softer still for tomorrow. I wasn't feeling 100 per cent today, but actually that didn't affect the way I was able to ride the bike, and hopefully I should be in better shape for the remainder of the weekend. We were lucky with the weather today and it would be nice if it stayed clear. Still, we'll be ready for anything."

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