Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi threw down the gauntlet today in the opening practice session for his home Grand Prix in Mugello, the Italian dominating the session and ending up as the only rider in the 1:49s.Rossi, who had a seven-year GP win streak at Mugello broken when he finished third in last year's race, rode the M1 to a 1:49.751 to best his teammate Jorge Lorenzo by .36 of a second to get things rolling for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix. Lorenzo earned pole position for last year's race with a 1:48.987, but crashed on the sighting lap and ended up finishing second on his back-up bike."I am so happy to be back here in Mugello and we did a good first practice," Rossi said in a team release. "We worked well, trying a lot of different settings as well as soft and hard Bridgestone tires, and we are quite fast. I still have pain in my shoulder but it seems that this track isn't as bad and today I wasn't suffering like I did in Le Mans. Of course we don't know how the shoulder will feel over the weekend but at this early stage I'm quite confident. The important thing is to work at 100 percent to find the right setting and make sure we're as fast as possible for Sunday."Loris Capirossi ended up third on the Rizla Suzuki, the Italian ending up .23 of a second behind Lorenzo and almost half a second ahead of Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards, the Texan hoping to improve up on his Mugello best of fifth in the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.Dani Pedrosa ended up fifth on the Repsol Honda with Texan Ben Spies finishing his first-ever session at Mugello in sixth. Spies rode his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha to a best of 1:51.004 and is 1.2 seconds behind Rossi in his first visit to Mugello."We didn’t go crazy testing many things on the first day here in Mugello," Pedrosa said in a team release. "We were focused mainly on testing Bridgestone’s tire options because it’s very important to get that selection right to find the performance for race distance. The track conditions weren’t bad today although the surface was quite slippery, so times will improve. Stability and agility are very important at this circuit and we still need to work on the chassis set-up side to improve these areas. We were not especially fast today, but we were not looking for an ultimate lap time either. For the first day of practice we are going in the right direction and tomorrow we can move forward.”Casey Stoner had another rough day on the Marlboro Ducati. The Australian, who won at Mugello for the first time last year, suffered yet another crash and ended the day in seventh.Italian Andrea Dovizioso finished the first day at his home GP in eighth, one spot better than Nicky Hayden on the second Marlboro Ducati.Aspar Honda's Hector Barbera rounded out the top 10 on the opening day of practice.

Friday Qualifying

1.                  Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:49.751

2.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:50.12

3.                  Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:50.359

4.                  Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:50.772

5.                  Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:50.773

6.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:51.004

7.                  Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:51.128

8.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:51.255

9.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:51.387

10.                  Hector Barbera (Honda) 1:51.582

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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