MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi rides out for his Free Practice session of the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring Circuit on Friday. - EPA
SACHSENRING (AFP): Aleix Espargaro put the factory Honda and Yamaha teams in the shade in practice for Sunday's German MotoGP while world championship leader Marc Marquez shrugged off a painful crash.
Espargaro on a NGM Forward Racing Yamaha clocked a best time of 1min 22.041sec, having been fastest in both sessions.
World champion Marquez, on the leading factory Honda, was second quickest, 0.117sec behind fellow-Spaniard Espargaro, having suffeerd a big crash earlier in the day in the first session.
"I feel great, and it was fantastic to ride here, like last year. We explored a lot of different settings," said Espargaro, who achieved a career-best fourth place at Assen last time out.
"I did 22 laps on the rear soft tyre, it was strong till the end. I think we can race with the soft like in Assen but the temperature can change a lot here in Germany."
Jorge Lorenzo, on a factory Yamaha, was third fastest at a track where he was missing last year because of a serious shoulder injury picked up at Assen and which compromised his title defence.
He was 0.327sec off the pace with Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP), Alvaro Bautista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Valentino Rossi (factory Yamaha) making up the top six.
Marquez is chasing a ninth win in nine races on Sunday with the flying Spaniard on course to have the title wrapped up in record time.
The Honda rider has a 72-point lead in the championship with team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Rossi, both of whom have just signed new deals with their respective teams, locked in second spot.
Marquez, 21, already has a successful track record at the Sachsenring having won on his last four visits - in the 125 class in 2010, in Moto2 in 2011 and 2012 and in his first MotoGP last year.
Victory on Sunday will mean he would have won every race across the opening half of the season.
In a stunning season, the defending champion has already become the 13th most successful rider of all-time in terms of wins, having celebrated his 40th victory at Assen two weeks ago.
He now targets a 25th podium in the elite class having become the first rider to claim eight straight wins since the top category was introduced at the start of 2002.
Only six other riders in history having won eight or more MotoGP races in a single season - Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Rossi, Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo.