Valentino Rossi started his German Grand Prix weekend in perfect fashion when he set the pace in morning free practice - and was still a happy man despite slipping to third in the afternoon first qualifying session.

Rossi delivered a best day one lap of 1min 23.539secs; 0.292secs from fastest man Sete Gibernau and a mere 0.086s slower than second place rider Nicky Hayden.

"We worked with qualifiers this afternoon but only for a short time," claimed Rossi. "I'm feeling a lot better here, all the riders are very close and pretty fast. Sete set a good time but we are not far behind. We made some small changes and I think tomorrow I can do even better on the qualifiers. The bike told me she likes this track!

"We're on course, especially considering the last race. I need to make up time on the last and second to last corners and this is one of the more difficult circuits to pass at, so it will be very important to get a good qualifying position tomorrow," he added.

Team-mate Carlos Checa was unable to replicate Rossi's form and, despite featuring at the front several times, would be left eighth at the flag.

"I feel quite comfortable on the bike but on old tyres I am struggling a little, not quite able to keep the pace," said the Spaniard. "The slow part of this track is maybe too slow but the rest is better for our bikes. When the set-up is okay then the feeling even in the slow area is not too bad.

"For the slower part maybe we need either a 125cc bike or 100bhp less!" he joked. "It is nice when you have a mix of slower and faster tracks and it is good fun to ride here anyway."

"For a first day package we are in a good situation, better than the last race. Valentino has a nice pace around here and he is in good shape. Carlos is a little bit slower but still at a reasonable pace on race tyres," stated factory Yamaha team director Davide Brivio.

"This bike seems to suit this track well and it is difficult to make an evaluation of this session based on the results because at the end, when people started to use soft tyres, the situation changed completely."