Sachsenring: Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi admitted on Friday he was delighted by his seventh-place run in practice for the German Grand Prix, just 41 days after breaking his leg.
Rossi climbed back onto his Yamaha despite suffering an exposed fracture of his right tibia in a crash at Mugello in Italy that appeared to have ruled him out for the rest of the season.
"I am really happy, especially because I am a lot more agile on the bike than I was in the tests (at Misano and Brno)," said 31-year-old Rossi, who was among the top four for much of the hour-long session.
He was eventually pushed down to seventh spot with a best time of 1min 23.244sec, just 0.723sec off pace setter Dani Pedrosa and two-hundredths of a second behind team-mate and championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.
"I feel good and this track is helping me because a lot of it turns to the left," Rossi added.
"I am feeling quite confident on the bike and also my shoulder is good and not giving me problems. Now I have some pain in the leg and ankle but it`s not too bad."
Rossi is now looking ahead confidently to Saturday`s second practice, which will be followed by the qualifying.
"I was able to do some laps in a row and I was quite fast so things seem okay," said the nine-time world champion.
"Now we will have to wait until Saturday morning to see how the leg is and whether it has swelled overnight or developed any problems."
During his six-week absence, Rossi has slipped to seventh in the world championship, 104 points behind Lorenzo and 52 points behind second-placed Dani Pedrosa of Honda.
However, he is only six points behind old rival Casey Stoner.
The Australian Ducati rider said he wasn`t too surprised to see Rossi back in the saddle.
"When I heard he was testing at Misano I thought it was really fast, but at the same time I’ve heard of people getting their collarbone plated and riding within a week, so there was always a possibility of him coming back here," said Stoner.