Rossi and Lorenzo talk FP from Assen (photo gallery)

The sun shone in Assen today as the 61st Dutch TT got underway, the seventh round of the MotoGP World Championship. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who jointly lead the championship with Casey Stoner and who both have impressive track records here, started the weekend off in strong fashion, finishing the day second and fourth respectively.

Following the excitement of the race in Barcelona there is an air of expectation surrounding the pair and they were indeed fast from the outset, remaining near or at the top of the standings throughout the hour-long session as they looked to refine their base set-ups around the 4.555km ‘Cathedral’. With temperatures in the mid-twenties conditions were perfect and both riders were happy with their progress through the opening practice, though Lorenzo lacked a little rear grip and will be looking to make an improvement in this area tomorrow morning in time for qualifying in the afternoon. Fastest man on track today was Randy de Puniet but Rossi was only 0.005 seconds off the Frenchman, with Lorenzo in turn just over two tenths off the front.

2nd – Valentino Rossi Speaks… (1’37.847)

"I’m happy about today’s practice because I was fast from the start and I could ride the bike how I want. This is very important because it means that the modifications we made in Barcelona are working here too, even though this is a different type of track. Now we have one or two small things to fix in order to improve our overall performance and lap time further. Anyway, we’re there, second by just a tiny bit and feeling good. It seems there is a doubt for the weather on Saturday which is a pity; of course I hope it’s dry but if it’s going to be a wet race then I hope we have the chance for one or two wet laps before the race in warm-up otherwise it will be quite hard."

4th – Jorge Lorenzo Speaks… (1’38.061)

"Today wasn’t perfect but we were still quite fast and I am happy enough. It hasn’t been like Barcelona but anyway all the top riders are very close and we are only two tenths behind the lead. I expect tomorrow, with the riders all close like this, times will get even quicker so we need to check a few things and make some small improvements to our setting. Everyone seems to be expecting another race like we had in Barcelona but I don’t think this is something that can happen every time! We just have to keep focused and do our best, and hopefully keep our target of getting on the podium again on Saturday."

Davide Brivio Speaks…  (Team Manager)

"We made a good start today and Valentino was at the top throughout the session which is always a good sign! We tried the different tyres we have available from Bridgestone and also played around with the setting a bit in order to better suit it to the nature of this track, which is very different to the last couple we have been to. We’ve collected some good information and tomorrow morning we will start to put it all together to find the best package."

Daniele Romagnoli Speaks… (Team Manager)

"We started the session using the base we developed during the Barcelona test, with just a few adaptations to suit the Assen layout. We have quite a good pace but we need to work on improving the rear grip tomorrow because at the moment Jorge has a few problems going into the turn and also in acceleration. We will have a look at the data and tomorrow try a few new things."

Combined Free Practice Times

1. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP

2. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team

3. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team

4. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team

5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda

6. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda

7. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3

8. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP

9. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3

10. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP

11. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini

12. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini

13. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team

14. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing

15. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team

16. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Grupo Francisco Hernando

17. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team

18. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing

19. Gabor Talmacsi (HUN) Scot Racing Team MotoGP

Assen: Record Lap

C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’36.738

Assen: Best Lap

C. Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’35.520