Edwards leads Checa at Assen.
Colin Edwards has set the Thursday MotoGP free practice pace at Assen in the Netherlands, after a dramatic opening day at the Dutch TT.
But the biggest news was that seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi was fit to ride this afternoon, after being hospitalised in a heavy morning fall.
The Italian suffered hairline fractures to both his wrist and ankle in the high speed accident, plus lesser chest and elbow injuries, but walked into the Camel Yamaha pits just as the afternoon hour started and was soon back out on his factory M1.
However, Rossi was unsurprisingly feeling the effects of his injuries and only briefly broke into the top ten lap times, on his way to an eventual twelfth position - although only 1.3secs from the top.
Meanwhile, two other M1 riders kept Yamaha at the head of the Thursday timesheets in the form of Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards and - most surprisingly - Tech 3 Yamaha's Carlos Checa.
Edwards, sixth fastest this morning, dominated much of this afternoon's session while Checa - a promising fifth in FP1 - leapt up to second place in the closing stages of the second hour, after brilliantly putting his Dunlop shod machine just 0.115secs from the Texan.
That pushed rookie Casey Stoner down to third, but the young Australian's 2-3 Thursday performance suggest the start of another strong weekend for the Honda LCR team. Kenny Roberts Jr - fresh from his Barcelona podium - claimed fourth, after sitting second to Edwards for much of the session.
Kawasaki rookie Randy de Puniet again underlined his inherent speed with a fifth position, less than half a second from the top, while John Hopkins - within the top three for much of the afternoon - put his Suzuki sixth on the opening day of Rizla's home race.
Rookie team-mate Chris Vermeulen - an Assen winner in WSBK - finished the session just 0.061secs further back, while Makoto Tamada, Shinya Nakano and championship leader Nicky Hayden completed the top ten around the revised layout.
Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi, bravely riding despite injuries sustained in last Sunday's turn one accident, finished 14th and 16th - with Sete Gibernau's replacement, Alex Hofmann, lapping 0.44secs quicker than Capirossi for 15th place on his Ducati Marlboro debut.
Hofmann's stand-in at the Pramac d'Antin team, Ivan Silva, rounded out the 18 riders, while Fortuna Honda's Toni Elias has withdrawn from the event after injuring himself in the first free practice session.
Thursday free practice:
5. de Puniet