After being outpaced by Dani Pedrosa in Jerez, Andrea Dovizioso returned to the kind of form he had shown in Qatar by setting the fourth fastest lap time during free practice at Le Mans.

Dovizioso lost out on a podium to Pedrosa in the closing stages of last year's race, but turned the tables by finishing one position ahead of the Spaniard on Friday, when he rode with the latest RCV chassis he had tried during the Jerez test.

If the rumours already circulating about Casey Stoner prove to be true, at least one of the present Repsol Honda riders will have to leave the team at the end of the year - making every session vital.

"I'm happy about how we started here at Le Mans," said Dovi. "I didn't do the maximum number of laps this afternoon because we were working in the garage to make some changes to the settings - but I had three laps where I could push and I'm happy with my lap times and the feeling with the bike.

"At the beginning of the session we were working on the power control settings and making some adjustments to improve the rideability, and I'm confident we're working in the right direction. Le Mans is a track that I like and it's really a pleasure to ride with this nice weather. Long may it continue."

Pedrosa, starting his 150th grand prix this weekend, declared it to have been a 'normal Friday'.

"Well this was a fairly normal first Friday session and the feeling today was positive," said the Spaniard. "I tested some electronics settings that I didn't feel 100 per cent comfortable with, so we'll analyse the data with the team and I'm confident that tomorrow I can make a big step forward. It's good to have these weather conditions straight away here in Le Mans because usually we lose some set-up time with bad weather."

"Andrea's pace was good especially towards the end of the session, and Dani can make a significant step forward tomorrow, so we're looking in good shape," stated team manager Toshiyuki Yamaji.

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