Valentino Rossi enjoyed the benefits of set-up progress made at the Jerez post-race test as he shot to the top of the Le Mans Friday practice times on his very last lap of the afternoon.
The reigning seven time MotoGP champion, first and third in the previous rounds, felt comfortable and fast on his factory M1 right from the start - at a track that traditionally favours Yamaha.
Rossi lapped consistently in the top three, before moving into first by 0.106sec from Ducati's Casey Stoner after an excellent end to his final lap - but with team-mate and title leader Jorge Lorenzo only 0.14sec from the top in third.
"I'm really happy about this practice and especially about my last lap, which was very quick,” said Rossi. “During the test after Jerez we got a better understanding of the problems we had and managed to improve our setting a lot, and that's where we've started from today. It's good to be this fast already.”
One thing that wasn't quite going to plan was Rossi's shoulder, which he had hoped would be fully healed from last month's Motocross accident.
“Unfortunately I still have some pain in my shoulder in the two or three hard braking areas, but I hope with the adrenaline tomorrow and Sunday it will be better and won't cause a problem,” said the #46.
“Our bike is historically very good here and it feels great in the twisty parts especially, so we're hopeful for a good weekend."
Rossi heads into this weekend just four points behind Lorenzo in the championship.