Norick Abe marked his MotoGP return, replacing the injured Marco Melandri, in style at a wet Valencia this morning - the Japanese leading outgoing Kawasaki rider Garry McCoy by a huge 2.3secs to top the 24 rider field.

However, such were the conditions that few riders completed more than 10 laps during the hour, although Repsol riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi were among those making an effort - and set the third and fourth fastest times respectively, but 20secs behind dry pace.

Aside from the top two, the tricky conditions helped Jeremy McWilliams to take the seventh fastest time, Kawasaki's Andrew Pitt tenth, while WCM team-mates David de Gea and Chris Burns claimed 12th and 19th in the team's best session of the year performance wise... although the ever unlucky Burns fell heavily and could miss this afternoon's session.

First qualifying, which is expected to be dry, takes place this afternoon.

Friday free practice:
1. Abe
2. McCoy
3. Hayden
4. Rossi
5. Checa
6. Bayliss
7. McWilliams
8. Biaggi
9. Barros
10. Pitt
11. Haga
12. de Gea
13. Gibernau
14. Roberts
15. Capirossi
16. Tamada
17. Hopkins
18. Ukawa
19. Burns
20. Nakano
21. Aoki
22. Kiyonari
23. Jacque
24. Edwards



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