Andrea Dovizioso was the surprise fastest rider on the opening day of practice for the FIM MotoGP World Championship race at Le Mans as rain meant the riders could not make the most of the return of hour-long practice sessions.
For the first time since the rules were changed to revert to 60-minute sessions it was the Repsol Honda of Dovizioso which was quickest at the French circuit.
The Italian rider had clocked the best lap of one minute 36.136 seconds by the time rain started to fall halfway through the session, spoiling the chances of title rivals Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner of bettering the time.
Australian Stoner, the former world champion, was second quickest on the Ducati Marlboro machine with a time of 1:36.194.
Third fastest was French rider Randy de Puniet on the LCR Honda who was attempting to turn his recent good form into an impressive result at his home race.
Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, the 2007 Le Mans grand prix winner, was fourth quickest with Dani Pedrosa in fifth on the second Repsol Honda.
Championship leader and title holder Rossi was only sixth quickest with his Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo down in seventh.
With Rossi and Lorenzo having finished first and second at the same circuit last year they will need to improve in qualifying if they are to have any chance of repeating that success in the race on Sunday.
Marco Melandri continued the good form of the Hayate Racing team as the Kawasaki-powered machine was eighth quickest.
Vermeulen's team-mate Loris Capirossi was ninth on the timesheets and Colin Edwards was 10th for Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, a French-based team looking for home success to celebrate its 20th year of racing.