MotoGP championship leader Valentino Rossi dropped from second to seventh place during the pair of Friday practice sessions at the Sachsening in Germany.

The Italian was one of only two riders in the top 15 not to improve in the afternoon session, as the gap to Marc Marquez grew from 0.336s to 0.538s.

However the Movistar Yamaha rider, who won his third race of the season after a final turn showdown with Marquez last time at Assen, was content with his set-up and pleased with the performance of the asymmetric front tyre on offer for the first time this season.

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"Today wasn't so bad because we started quite strong this morning," Rossi began. "In the afternoon it became a bit more difficult, because the temperature rose and that made it harder to control the bike that started sliding more.

"Unfortunately I was not able to improve my lap time from the morning, especially because we tried something different and when I had the new tyre I had some different setting that I don't like a lot.

"But we worked well and were able to improve the setting. I did my best time on the last exit with a tyre that had already done more than twenty laps, so it means we've made a good step forward.

"I'm just in seventh also because in front of me some riders put a new tyre at the end.

"I'm happy because we start with a good base, good setting, but now we have to improve a lot of small details. My pace isn't so bad, but it's also not fantastic so we have to try to do better.

"I decided to use the front asymmetric tyre for the entire afternoon session to understand and the first feeling was good. It had good grip, both left and right, and especially the performance of the tyre is consistent for 25 laps."

Rossi's team-mate and nearest title rival Jorge Lorenzo was seventh and fourth in the Friday sessions.

As well as being fastest in both sessions, Marquez also held a clear advantage in terms of race pace, with Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa looking next best, followed by Rossi.

Despite Marquez being 74 points behind in the title chase, Rossi explained why he refuses to rule him out:

"Marc has gone back to his chassis from last year and this is a help for him, physiologically and also technically, so I think Marquez will be very competitive from now to the end for sure. For this reason he is not out of the championship.

"But it is also true that our bike is very good, better than last year, so I think both me and Jorge can be more competitive than last year. So we can fight more with Marc. For this reason it is difficult because the distance is big but it is not finished for him because we still have 10 races."