Marco Simoncelli set the fastest lap time during an extended 90-minute Friday morning free practice session for the Dutch MotoGP at Assen.

The session was doubled in length to compensate for the loss of Thursday afternoon's FP2, due to an oil spill in the Moto2 class.

The session began with a bang when all three Repsol Honda riders - Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Hiroshi Aoyama - suffered big crashes in the opening minutes (see separate story). They would be the only fallers.

Dovizioso was taken to the Medical Centre for checks, then got back out on track with 50 minutes to go. Unfortunately for Dovi, his return coincided with the arrival of light rain showers, which fell off-and-on to the chequered flag.

Simoncelli's twelfth lap, set before the rain, thus proved to be the best of the session - and the weekend so far, with Thursday morning practice (also led by Simoncelli) held in the wet.

The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider will head for this afternoon's qualifying session having taken an advantage of 0.193sec over championship leader Stoner, with Ben Spies in third (+0.260sec) for Factory Yamaha Racing.

Team-mate and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo was fourth (+0.596sec) with Valentino Rossi the top Ducati rider, but just over one second from Simoncelli, on the new GP11.1.

Injured rookie Cal Crutchlow was once again the leading satellite-bike rider in sixth (+1.183sec) for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, with team-mate Colin Edwards - also riding with a healing collarbone - a fraction slower.

Dovizioso recovered to eighth (+1.512sec), with Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden (+1.575sec) and LCR Honda's Toni Elias (+2.127sec) completing the top ten.

With Dani Pedrosa absent for a third race in a row, following his collarbone injury at Le Mans last month, HRC has promoted Aoyama to the Repsol squad, with factory test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi filling in for Aoyama at Gresini.

Aoyama set the 15th fastest time (+3.048sec) after his accident, with Akiyoshi 17th and last (+4.842sec).

Friday practice:

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


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