Luco di Mugello - Italian motorcycling star Valentino Rossi
proved he was well on the comeback trail after a training accident by setting
the fastest time in free practice on Saturday ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.
Rossi, 38, known on the circuit as 'The Doctor', was
discharged from a Rimini hospital last weekend after treatment for chest and
stomach injuries suffered while he was training in motocross.
But buoyed by the enthusiastic support of the rowdy home
crowd the Italian posted a fastest lap of 1min 46.543sec, with world champion
Marc Marquez of Spain at .322sec on his Honda and Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo,
winner last year in Tuscany, at 0.368.
World championship leader Maverick Vinales, Rossi's Yahama
teammate, finished fifth-fastest at 0.429, with qualifying taking place later
Rossi - bidding for a 10th world title this season - is
sitting third in the overall standings behind Vinales and Honda's Dani Pedrosa,
who was ninth-fastest.
Standings after Saturday's MotoGP free practice for the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 1:46.543, 2. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) at 0.322sec, 3. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP/Ducati) 0.368, 4. Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Ducati Apsar) 0.416, 5. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 0.429, 6. Tito Rabat (ESP/Honda Marc VDS) 0.505, 7. Michele Pirro (ITA/Ducati) 0.567, 8. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 0.577, 9. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) 0.623, 10. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.630, 11. Johann Zarco (FRA/Yamaha Tech3) 0.714
Note: Top 10 qualify directly for Q2