The tenth round of the season started in positive fashion for Marco Melandri, who set the sixth fastest time on the first day of action at the German Grand Prix.
After lapping fifth fastest in the morning, in the afternoon Melandri was just six tenths
off the time of pacesetter Casey Stoner, the Gresini Honda rider sealing a place on the theoretical second row.
The Italian star is confident of another top race at a circuit where he has celebrated victory in both the 125 and 250 classes and was second in the MotoGP race last year after a memorable duel with Rossi and Hayden.
It was a good start to the weekend too for Michel Fabrizio, 22, making his debut on the RC212V. Michel, who is replacing Toni Elias for the German round, got to know his new machine around this circuit and is confident of improving his pace on it tomorrow. MARCO MELANDRI (6th, 1' 23"430):
"I'm happy with this first day - we've had a couple of good sessions. I'd like to say thank you to Honda for the new exhaust. We've taken a big step forward with it - the throttle connection is much more smooth and the feeling under braking has also improved. It is better on the entrance and exit of the corners and lap after lap I felt more and more comfortable. We're also in good shape with the tyres so I'm satisfied today." MICHEL FABRIZIO (18th, 1'24"748):
"This is an important experience for me. The bike is fun to ride and from the morning to the afternoon I improved my lap time by eight tenths.
Hopefully I can improve a lot more tomorrow and for the race. I'm happy because this is a really nice opportunity for me and I want to say thank you to Fausto and to Honda". FAUSTO GRESINI:
"Thanks to the new material that Honda have brought for us here at Sachsenring we've been able to make a big step up in quality. The team are doing everything they can to put our rider in a position to fight for the best possible result. Today Marco had a good day of practice and that gives us high hopes for the race. For Michel this is his first contact with the 800cc bike and the Bridgestone tyres and I'm happy to be able to give him this chance."