Outgoing MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi returning to the top of the timesheets during first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, but the biggest news on Friday at Motegi was an injury for title contender Dani Pedrosa.

The Repsol Honda rider was kicked off his RC212V under braking for turn three, on only his third lap of the session, leaving the Spaniard with a left collarbone broken in three places.

Pedrosa is the only rider that can still deprive Jorge Lorenzo of the 2010 title - and he is already 56 points behind with 125 remaining.

As such, the injury, which looks set to rule Pedrosa out of at least the next three races (in three weeks) means Lorenzo is likely to have wrapped up his first premier-class crown by the time MotoGP returns to Europe for the penultimate Estoril round at the latest.

Pedrosa's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso looked set to provide a glimmer of light on HRC's darkest day of the season, as he led the timesheets as the chequered flag waved, but even that didn't last as Rossi snatched the top spot by 0.213sec on his final lap.

Rossi had doubted his chances heading into the weekend, stating that the stop-go circuit would be hard on his injured shoulder, but he was competitive throughout Friday's hour-long session.

Lorenzo, riding with a special helmet design, was 0.3sec behind Rossi in third place, with Aragon winner Casey Stoner fourth for Ducati (+0.307sec).

Ben Spies, who will replace the departing Rossi at Fiat Yamaha next season, was the top rookie and satellite rider in sixth place despite a slow fall from his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 bike. The Texan was 0.821sec slower than Stoner.

Home star Hiroshi Aoyama was just one place behind Spies on his Motegi MotoGP debut after enjoying his best session in the premier-class, with Colin Edwards seventh on the second satellite M1.

Hector Barbera (Aspar Ducati) and Marco Simoncelli (Gresini Honda) made it four rookies in the top ten, with Loris Capirossi between them in ninth for Rizla Suzuki.

Simoncelli's team-mate Marco Melandri was eleventh, with Capirossi's team-mate Alvaro Bautista twelfth and Aragon podium finisher Nicky Hayden only 13th for Ducati. Hayden walked away from a slow fall towards the end of the session.

The Japanese Grand Prix was scheduled to take place in April, but had to be postponed due to the Icelandic volcano grounding flights from Europe.

Friday practice:

1. Rossi
2. Dovizioso
3. Lorenzo
4. Stoner
5. Spies
6. Aoyama
7. Edwards
8. Barbera
9. Capirossi
10. Simoncelli
11. Melandri
12. Bautista
13. Hayden
14. de Puniet
15. Espargaro
16. Kallio
17. Pedrosa

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