Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo maintained his momentum in opening practice for the Dutch TT at Assen, beating Casey Stoner to the fastest time.
Stoner had been the first of the frontrunners up to speed, and the Ducati rider led the way for much of the session, while Lorenzo (Yamaha) gradually build up pace. But, going into the closing stages, Lorenzo hit the front and started battling for the top spot with Stoner. Both improved several times and did their best times on their last laps of the hour, which saw Lorenzo end up on a 1m35.169sec, just 0.011sec ahead of Stoner.
Ducati had both factory bikes in the top three with Nicky Hayden in third. The American's compatriot Colin Edwards was a strong fourth for Tech 3 Yamaha, ahead of the two works Hondas.
Seventh was a superb result for Pramac Ducati's Aleix Espargaro, the Spaniard outpacing Silverstone podium finisher Ben Spies (Tech 3 Yamaha) and the Gresini Hondas.
Kousuke Akiyoshi was understandably off the pace as he made his MotoGP return for Interwetten Honda in place of the injured Hiroshi Aoyama. The Honda test rider was 6.2sec adrift of Lorenzo, and 4sec down on nearest rival Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki).
Pos Rider Team Time Gap
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m35.169s
2. Casey Stoner Ducati 1m35.180s + 0.011s
3. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m35.686s + 0.517s
4. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m35.699s + 0.530s
5. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m35.868s + 0.699s
6. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m35.922s + 0.753s
7. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati 1m35.927s + 0.758s
8. Ben Spies Tech 3 Yamaha 1m35.942s + 0.773s
9. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m36.002s + 0.833s
10. Marco Melandri Gresini Honda 1m36.269s + 1.100s
11. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 1m36.294s + 1.125s
12. Hector Barberta Aspar Ducati 1m36.735s + 1.566s
13. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1m36.786s + 1.617s
14. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 1m37.261s + 2.092s
15. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m37.384s + 2.215s
16. Kousuke Akiyoshi Interwetten Honda 1m41.332s + 6.163s