Valentino Rossi was surprised to top Friday's MotoGP practice session at Motegi and says his shoulder injury is bothering him less than he expected.
The reigning MotoGP champion went fastest in today's practice with the very last lap of the session, knocking Honda's Andrea Dovizioso off the top. But Rossi says he was not expecting things to go so well in Japan.
"I'm really happy about today, it is honestly a big surprise for me to be first," Rossi said. "I was expecting to suffer a lot here with my shoulder because there are so many hard braking areas, but in fact they are all quite straight, so I was happy to find I was OK.
"In fact, I felt very good on the bike right from the start and we have done a great job here with the setting. I used the new engine and Yamaha have done an excellent job on it, it is especially better in fourth and fifth gears and everything is working very well.
"I know it's only Friday but it's a long time since I have been in front like this so I have to enjoy this sweet feeling. I know there's a chance of rain for the rest of the weekend, which is a pity, and if it is wet we will do our best."
Rossi added his sympathy for Dani Pedrosa, whose faint title hopes expired when his fractured his collarbone in a crash early in practice.
"I am sorry for Dani – I saw the crash from far off and it's bad luck, I hope it is not too bad," he said.