Lorenzo leads Pedrosa in Estoril practice.

Jorge Lorenzo, who capped an incredible start to his MotoGP career with a debut victory in only his third race at Estoril 2008, was back at the front of the Portuguese Grand Prix timesheets during Friday practice for the 2009 event. 

    The Fiat Yamaha rider, competing - like team-mate and title leader Valentino Rossi - with a special silver and white Fiat Punto Evo livery, took over from fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa at the head of the timesheets just after the halfway mark of the hour and was never headed.

    The triple 2009 race winner stretched his advantage to 0.359sec over Pedrosa's Repsol Honda by the end of the session, with reigning six time MotoGP champion Rossi 0.421sec behind Lorenzo in third.

    Rossi holds a 30 point lead over the #99 with four rounds to go.

    Casey Stoner, making his MotoGP comeback after missing three rounds due to fatigue problems, completed some exploratory laps with the Desmosedici before his first flying lap since July placed him ninth and the top Ducati. 

    The 2007 world champion's next fast lap, with the new GP9 fairing, moved him up to fifth and he reached third place on the timesheets - behind only Lorenzo and Pedrosa - just after the midway point.

    Rossi later bumped the Australian back a place and Stoner finished the session a solid fourth, 0.360sec behind Rossi and 0.137sec ahead of Colin Edwards, who marked his new Tech 3 contract by once again leading the satellite challenge.

    Honda riders Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol) and Randy de Puniet (LCR) were over one-second slower than Lorenzo in sixth and seventh, while James Toseland proved he will push to the end of his MotoGP career with a competitive eighth for Tech 3 Yamaha.

    Honda Gresini - the last satellite team to win a MotoGP race, with Toni Elias, at Estoril 2006 - saw its riders ranked only ninth (Alex de Angelis) and 15th (Elias), with Mika Kallio rounding out the top ten for Pramac Ducati.

    All four Ducati riders had been in the top ten with nine minutes to go, but Stoner's factory team-mate Nicky Hayden was forced back to eleventh, with Niccolo Canepa dropping to 13th.

    A tough day for Suzuki ended with Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen 12th and 16th, with Marco Melandri a depressing 17th and last for Hayate. By contrast, Scot Honda rookie Gabor Talmacsi was a better than usual 14th.

    'Rusty' Rossi wants braking balance. 

    Reigning MotoGP champion and 2009 title leader Valentino Rossi admitted that the one month break since Misano had left him a little rusty during day one of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

    The Italian finished Friday practice in third place, 0.421sec behind Fiat Yamaha team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo, but just 0.062secs adrift of Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa.

    "This is quite a difficult track to come back to after a long break because the braking is very hard and it's quite stressful on the arms, but I think it will be better tomorrow,” explained Rossi, who holds a 30 point lead over Lorenzo with four rounds to go.

    “We have a slight problem in the balance of the bike in these hard braking areas which we need to work on tomorrow to find a way to improve; we're already quite fast but we need to close the gap a bit more so we will make the most of our time tomorrow so that we're in good shape for qualifying,” he added.

    "It looks like we have as bit of work to do but we're not too far away,” commented team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “We also had the possibility to check all the tyres and so it was a good session as far as gathering information is concerned. We could have done with a few more laps at the end to check a couple of different settings, but this isn't a big problem and we will have time to do this tomorrow."

    Rossi and Lorenzo are riding in a special silver and white Fiat Punto Evo livery this weekend.

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