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Aleix Espargaro put his Open class Forward-Yamaha to the top of the timesheets as he kicked off his home Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez in impressive form.

Taking advantage of running with the 'extra soft' Bridgestone tyre compound this weekend, along with his fellow Open class counterparts, Espargaro swept to the top of the timesheets in the closing minutes with a best time of 1min 39.445secs, before slicing another tenth off that before the chequered was deployed.

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Already quicker than the race lap record around the popular Spanish venue and almost four tenths up on the competition, his efforts were enough to demote Jorge Lorenzo down to second position on the factory Yamaha, the lap record holder - who set his benchmark back in 2008 - keeping the Repsol Honda pair at bay with his own late charge.

Indeed, the session was led early on by Dani Pedrosa, but his failure to improve on the lap he set in the opening 15mins would see him demoted to fourth place behind championship leading team-mate Marc Marquez, the youngster finding the limit over the kerbs on several occasions en route to third.

Rounding out the top five, Valentino Rossi cut a low profile on the second of the Yamahas, half a second adrift of his team-mate, ahead of another of the substantial Spanish contingent, Alvaro Bautista on the Gresini Honda.

Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest Ducati rider in seventh place, ahead of LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl and Pramac Ducati's Yonny Hernandez, with Bradley Smith completing the top ten.

Beyond Espargaro, Nicky Hayden headed up the 'best of the rest' in the Open class on the Drive M7 Aspar Honda, the American 11th overall, ahead of Hector Barbera in 14th and Hiroshi Aoyama in 15th.

Of the remaining British riders, Cal Crutchlow favoured caution as he embarked on his first competitive outing since injuring his hand, the Ducati man putting in 18 laps en route to 18th overall, while Scott Redding and Michael Laverty were 19th and 24th respectively.

Andrea Iannone was the only rider to suffer a fall in the session, the Italian dropping his Pramac Ducati at turn five with just under five minutes of the session remaining.