MotoGP title leader and defending Indianapolis winner Jorge Lorenzo had to be content with second position during Friday practice for the 2010 event.
The Spaniard, winner of seven of the ten races so far this year, slid his factory Yamaha - which is once again dressed in the special 'Fiat 500' livery that was showcased in Laguna Seca earlier this season – to a best time of 1min 41.109s, just 0.225sec slower than Casey Stoner's Ducati.
"I rode really well today and improved a lot during the practice," said Lorenzo. "The rear was sliding a lot, maybe because the temperature is so high; it's a lot hotter than last year! I think the level between the top riders here is more or less the same and everyone is looking very strong. Then everyone will improve further tomorrow and we must make sure we do so as well. It will be a good battle!"
"We're quite happy to be second and the handling and balance is quite good," added team manager Wilco Zeelenberg. "It's very bumpy of course and we need to work a little bit to minimise the wheelie in places, but basically it feels good for Jorge."
Earlier in the day, Yamaha officially confirmed that Ben Spies will be a factory M1 rider in 2011.
Spies will take the place of Valentino Rossi, who is heading for Ducati, and be team-mate to Lorenzo. Lorenzo hasn't yet re-signed, but that is simply a matter of time and the 23-year-old congratulated Spies on his promotion.
"Finally I want to say congratulations to Ben Spies, next year he will join the Factory Team and I think it's great news for him and for Yamaha," said Lorenzo.
Rossi was fifth fastest.