Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez overcame an early technical problem to set the fifth fastest lap time on Friday at Le Mans.

The Repsol Honda star, who gained four points on title leader Valentino Rossi last time at Jerez, pulled off-track at the end of pit lane in the opening minutes of FP1.

The Spaniard is already believed to have lost one of his five engines at Austin, but later insisted today's issue really had been an "electrical problem".

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Once back on track Marquez soon put the incident behind him to finish second, to Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, in FP1 then lowered his lap time by half-a-second in the afternoon.

The 22-year-old - who tried the new swingarm first seen at the Jerez test, which features a small cutaway (see picture) - was 0.491s from surprise day one leader Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha).

"Today was good, maybe the position could be improved but I'm happy with the work that we did," he said. "We tried to improve for the second part of the race and that's what we focussed on. I'm happy because the new swingarm is working well and I'm feeling good.

"In the second half of the race we are looking to improve the entry of the corner where I have a floating feeling on the front, to improve on that we need to work on the used tyre.

"Dovi is really strong this year and I expect him to have good pace and all the Yamaha riders. It's only Friday but it looks like Vale, Lorenzo and Dovizioso will be strong."

Marquez starts this weekend fourth in the championship and 26 points behind Rossi, a very different scenario to last year when he swept to victory in the opening ten events.

"The situation is completely different to last year and we've already had one crash in a race and if after four races you have a '0' the points difference is bigger. I still feel good and we've still got 14 races left," Marquez said.

"Valentino has started the season really strong, at Jerez Lorenzo was stronger than him but Valentino has the experience to manage the situation and the points and where he can attack and then where he needs to save points.

"Valentino and Jorge will be the strongest opponents but Dovi is the question mark."

Lorenzo was second quickest on Friday with Dovizioso third and Rossi sixth.