Fresh from his best ever MotoGP performance last Sunday in Shanghai, Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins again held fourth at the end of day one in Le Mans - and is chasing a debut podium on Sunday.

Hopkins was consistently in the top five throughout the two practice sessions and set a best time just 0.291secs off the fastest time set by Colin Edwards - the man who beat him to third in China.

The Anglo-American also completed a 20-lap run on one of the new generation Bridgestone tyres and set the fastest speed of this afternoon's session - 288km/h - through the newly configured turn one.

"I'm glad it stayed dry through both of the sessions. We wanted to get the best setting that we can today, so that we can build on that tomorrow," said John. "From the start of the day we have been looking pretty decent and have only had to make a few suspension changes here and there. We have tried to spend a lot of time on the circuit and put in as many laps as possible to see what happens with the race tyre. Basically it's been a pretty easy day and we've made improvements every time we've gone out. We'll look to take further steps forward tomorrow and chase that first podium finish on Sunday."

Meanwhile, team-mate Chris Vermeulen was riding at Le Mans for the first time and used both sessions to learn the lines of the famous Bugatti Circuit. He improved throughout the day, but will be looking to better his 16th place during tomorrow's qualifying session.

"My first day at Le Mans and luckily we got two dry sessions as I need as much track time as possible," said the young Australian. "This morning I lost a bit of time but we were still able to get through a lot of things and I was able to learn the track. We have some ideas to change the bike for tomorrow and hopefully we can pick up some speed."