Valentino Rossi made the perfect comeback from his Rio accident by leading the first free practice session for the German Grand Prix; the Gauloises Yamaha star lapping 0.396secs quicker than Suzuki's Kenny Roberts.

Roberts took his first pole position since 2000 last time out in Brazilian, but the Rio circuit's 1km straight left him a sitting duck on race day and he slipped down to seventh.

However, the tight and twisty Sachsenring represents no such horsepower test and the American was able to put his Bridgestone shod GSV-R 0.014secs ahead of Repsol Honda countryman Nicky Hayden this morning.

Rio winner Makoto Tamada took a late fourth, just ahead of joint championship leader Sete Gibernau (who also fell in Rio) and Rossi's factory Yamaha team-mate Carlos Checa. Checa led the session at the midway point but would finish 0.6secs from the Italian.

Colin Edwards edged out former WSBK rival Troy Bayliss for seventh, but it was still a relatively strong start for the Australian, who outpaced Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi by seven places and 0.7secs.

Max Biaggi, who closed to within 13-points of the top two after finishing runner-up to his Camel Honda team-mate in Rio, led the early stages of the hour but would slip to ninth - one place ahead of Alex Barros - by the chequered flag.

Rossi's best time was 0.5secs from Biaggi's 2003 pole, but with no prior testing carried at the Sachsenring lap times are expected to fall further this afternoon (weather permitting) as bike set-ups are refined.

First free practice:

1. Rossi
2. Kenny Roberts
3. Hayden
4. Tamada
5. Gibernau
6. Checa
7. Edwards
8. Bayliss
9. Biaggi
10. Barros
11. Abe
12. Hofmann
13. Hopkins
14. Melandri
15. Capirossi
16. Nakano
17. McWilliams
18. Xaus
19. Hodgson
20. Byrne
21. Aoki
22. Fabrizio
23. Burns
24. Kurtis Roberts