Valentino Rossi gave his local Misano fans a perfect start to race day by leading warm-up for the San Marino Grand Prix.

The Italian star, who has qualified on the front row for the first time this year, led the session twice in the early stages before joining only fellow Yamaha rider Pol Espargaro (Tech 3) in breaking the 1m 34s barrier.

Most impressively, Rossi had remained out for the entire 20-minute session, with his best time recorded on the final of twelve successive fast laps.

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By contrast the impressive time from Espargaro (+0.030s) came on the second lap after returning to the track, while world champion Marc Marquez and pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo also made a mid-session pit stop on their way to third (+0.058s) and fourth (+0.287s) respectively.

While the top three are very close on paper, Lorenzo appeared more consistent than Marquez, who was planning significant set-up changes this morning to improve the front of his Repsol Honda after being left outside the qualifying top three for the first time this year.

Friday's pair of practice sessions were both 'lost' to wet weather.

Second place starter Andrea Iannone (Pramac Ducati), Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) were the final riders within half-a-second of Rossi.

Smith, Bradl and eighth fastest Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) joined Rossi in making a single long run.

Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa only put together three consecutive fast laps on his way to tenth, suggesting the Spaniard is far from comfortable heading into the grand prix.

The 28-lap race is set to take place in the best weather conditions of the weekend, with bright sunshine, a near cloudless sky and only a light breeze.

1. Valentino Rossi
2. Pol Espargaro
3. Marc Marquez
4. Jorge Lorenzo
5. Andrea Iannone
6. Bradley Smith
7. Stefan Bradl
8. Andrea Dovizioso
9. Aleix Espargaro
10. Dani Pedrosa
11. Alvaro Bautista
12. Cal Crutchlow
13. Yonny Hernandez
14. Hiroshi Aoyama
15. Karel Abraham
16. Scott Redding
17. Leon Camier
18. Alex De Angelis
19. Hector Barbera
20. Danilo Petrucci
21. Broc Parkes
22. Mike Di Meglio
23. Michael Laverty