LE MANS, France, May 19 (Reuters) – Italian Valentino Rossi set the fastest time in Friday’s first free practice session at the French Grand Prix.


The MotoGP world champion, who said he was going to try “some new things” after retiring from the China Grand Prix last week, clocked one minute 35.288 seconds around the demanding Bugatti circuit in western France on his Yamaha.

Team mate Colin Edwards of the United States took second place, 0.518 second behind, with Italian Capirossi finishing third on a Ducati, 0.662 second off the pace.


Rossi retired from the race in Shanghai following a tyre failure and returns to Europe lying sixth in the standings, 32 points adrift of Honda’s American pacesetter Nicky Hayden.

Hayden finished a disappointing ninth in windy conditions, more than one second behind Rossi, who won the French race last season.

Spanish Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who won in China, was down in tenth place, with local favourite Randy De Puniet finishing just behind on his Kawasaki.

In the 250cc category, Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli was the fastest rider on his Aprilia, clocking a best time of 1:42.835.

Spanish Hector Barbera, also riding an Aprilia, was second and world championship leader Andrea Dovizioso of Italy finished third on his Honda.


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