The opening practice session for the German Grand Prix was held at the Sachsenring today with most of the focus on the return of World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Fiat Yamaha rider who suffered a broken lower leg six weeks ago in practice for the Italian Grand Prix. And it looks like Rossi will be just fine, the Italian ending the first session in seventh."I am really happy today, especially because I am a lot more agile on the bike than I was in the tests," Rossi said in a team release. "I feel good and this track is helping me because a lot of it turns to the left. I am feeling quite confident on the bike and also my shoulder is good and not giving me problems. Now I have some pain in the leg and ankle but it's not too bad; I was able to do some laps in a row and I was quite fast so things seem okay. Now we will have to wait until tomorrow morning to see how the leg is and whether it has swelled overnight or developed any problems."At the top of the timesheets, meanwhile, was Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, the Spaniard putting in his best lap on his final lap - a 1:22.521. That put him .274 of a second faster than Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner."It's great because for the first time this season I've got the best time on Friday and this is a very positive step for us," Pedrosa said in a Honda release. "We normally struggle initially, but today we did a very good job in first practice and I'm very happy for this. It's also a good result because tomorrow it could rain and so it was very important to get the basic set-up fixed on the first day here. I hope we will have one more practice session in the dry tomorrow, but it looks likely that at least one session will be wet. Today we were focused mainly on trying the different Bridgestone tire compounds available for the race, and we were able to be fast with the soft and also with the hard option. For tomorrow we need to keep working on the suspension and the electronics because I think we can still improve in some parts of the lap."Nicky Hayden ended today's opening one-hour session third, the Marlboro Ducati rider .462 of a second down on Pedrosa's best. Hayden's countryman Ben Spies was impressive in his first outing at the Sachsenring circuit, the Texan riding his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha to th fourth fastest time. A second rookie, Marco Simoncelli, completed the top five on his San Carlo Gresini Honda."All in all not a bad first day for us," Hayden said in a Ducati release. "It was really important to get as much information as we could today, to try all the tires and a couple of different set-ups because it looks like there's a good chance of rain tomorrow. We started out struggling quite a bit - right in the beginning it wasn't too good, but I switched bikes and immediately got a better feeling. Actually one bike was better on the front, one bike was better on the rear so it was a case of finding a compromise. There are a couple of parts on the track where I am quite fast, but a few sections where I'm losing a lot and every tenth counts around here - I mean, a lot of tracks you look for tenths but around here literally half a tenth can make a big difference. But it's a cool track, I like it, that fast corner out the back is a lot of fun. We'll just try to keep rolling."World Championship points leader Jorge Lorenzo ended up sixth, some .7 of a second down on Pedrosa with his 1:23.224.Rossi, meanwhile, ended up completing 29 laps and was just .002 of a second behind his teammate.LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet was next, the Frenchman ending up eighth. San Carlo Honda's Marco Melandri and Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the top 10 on the opening day.Colin Edwards rode his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha to the 13th fastest time.

Friday Practice

1.                  Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:22.521

2.                  Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:22.795

3.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:22.983

4.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:23.189

5.                  Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1:23.204

6.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:23.224

7.                  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:23.244

8.                  Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:23.260

9.                  Marco Melandri (Honda) 1:23.290

10.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:23.400

MotoGP Headlines

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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