The weather that Britain is famous for reared its ugly head today, but not until the very end of the free practice session at the Silverstone circuit and by then Jorge Lorenzo had established himself at the top of the timesheets as motorcycle Grand Prix racing returned to the famous racetrack after a 23-year hiatus.Lorenzo went to the top with just under 14 minutes left in the session, the Fiat Yamaha rider displacing Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso in the first session in preparation for Sunday's Airasia British Grand Prix. Then the Spaniard went quicker, dropping into the 2:05s with a 2:05.99 with 11 and a half minutes to run. He would be the only rider to dip into the 2:05s as rain hit the track in the waning moments of the session."I'm happy with our first day's work here at Silverstone and I've really enjoyed the new circuit; it's fast and fun to ride," Lorenzo said. "We've worked really hard and I've ridden a lot of laps in order to begin to understand every corner and every straight. Unfortunately it was cold today and the asphalt was cold too, which meant that without any reference points in the beginning it was quite difficult, but hopefully tomorrow and Sunday will be better. Then in the last three minutes it started to rain so we decided to stop. We made a good start and then step-by-step I improved, so I think we are in good shape for a good race weekend. We will continue in the same way tomorrow and aim for the front row."Casey Stoner ended up second in today's first session as riders learned the long and fast Silverstone circuit with all but him and Colin Edwards riding on the track for the first time. But the track that Edwards raced World Superbike and Stoner raced 125s in the British Championship here in 2001 was prior to the big changes that were made to the circuit to entice MotoGP to return.Stoner lapped at a best of 2:06.133 - .142 of a second off Lorenzo's best. Then came Dovizioso at 2:06.347 and LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet at 2:06.439, the last in the 2:06s.Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Ben Spies, on equal footing with the rest as everyone was learning a new track, ended up fifth with a 2:07.250.

"The track is fun," Spies said in a TV interview straight after the session. "It's obviously dirty, but the layout is very fun. It's long, but very bumpy and that's one problem. We just have to find a decent setup to work over the bumps. It's hard to learn because it's so long. We just wanted to learn and we'll make some changes for next session with the gearbox and things."

Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, the winner of the Italian GP two weeks ago, ended the session in sixth with Gresini Honda's Marco Melandri, Aleix Espargaro, Marco Simoncelli and Nicky Hayden rounding out the top 1o. Hayden's best came near the end of the session and just prior to the rain.The third American in the series - Edwards - ended up 12th.Free Practice

1.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 2:05.991

2.                  Casey Stoner (Ducati) 2:06.133

3.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 2:06.344

4.                  Randy de Puniet (Honda) 2:06.434

5.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 2:07.250

6.                  Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2:07.586

7.                  Marco Melandri (Honda) 2:07.586

8.                  Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) 2:07.927

9.                  Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 2:07.951

10.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 2:08.300

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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