Valentino Rossi says he was disappointed to discover that the after effects of last month's Motocross crash were still causing him discomfort in Le Mans practice today. The Yamaha rider was still quickest in practice in France, but admitted he had hoped to be fully fit in time for this event.
"I have a lot of pain in my shoulder today," said Rossi. "In the two or three downhill braking areas it hurts. I hope it gets better but I really expected it to have been 100 percent by now.
"I can lift my arm up to here [shoulder level] but then it hurts. In Jerez the problem was tucking into the cowling, but now it's on the brakes where it hurts."
But Rossi was more positive about his bike's performance, convinced that Yamaha had resolved the issues that slowed him in the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this month. The MotoGP champion was a low-key third at Jerez, but felt his team had made a breakthrough in the subsequent test – an improvement he demonstrated by beating Ducati's Casey Stoner to the top spot today.
"I'm really happy about this practice and especially about my last lap, which was very quick," Rossi said. "During the test after Jerez we got a better understanding of the problems we had and managed to improve our setting a lot, and that's where we've started from today. It's good to be this fast already.
"Our bike is historically very good here and it feels great in the twisty parts especially, so we're hopeful for a good weekend."
His teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who leads the championship following his hard-fought Jerez win, was third today.
"At the start of the session we had a small problem on one bike with the electronics but we swapped to the other bike and things were OK from there," said Lorenzo.
"Little by little I found a good pace and at the end I was able to do a lot of laps in the '34s. My bike feels good here – as everyone says it is always a good track for Yamaha – and although we are still struggling a bit in the acceleration I am feeling good."