Rossi: I'm okay.
Valentino Rossi's initial acquaintance with the new Assen layout lasted just six laps before he high-sided from his M1 through the fast left hander that leads into the final hairpin - sending the seven-times world champion tumbling viciously through the gravel trap.
Rossi was left winded for several minutes as a result of the impacts and was then placed on a stretcher - which he promptly climbed off, before walking slowly to the trackside Clinica Mobile.
At 11.15am local time the Italian was taken to Assen Hospital, where he was diagnosed with chest contusions, hairline fractures to the right hand and left ankle and a haematoma on his right elbow - but fortunately not a broken wrist, as was initially feared.
'The Doctor' also underwent a CAT scan at the Dutch hospital and, after having been given the all-clear on damage to his chest, returned to the circuit in time for the afternoon session - where he went on to set the twelfth fastest lap time, 1.3secs behind pace setting team-mate Colin Edwards.
"I'm okay and I would like everyone to relax about it, even if it's been quite hard for me to ride!" said Rossi, who cancelled his normal afternoon chat with journalists. "I have a little fracture on my left foot and also a small fracture on my right wrist, so when I give gas and brake it's really hard. I don't have much power or feeling. Plus I got a big bruise on my thorax and I couldn't breathe well for a long time. I had all the examinations necessary to check if everything was okay and with some painkillers I was able to ride this afternoon.
"The problem this morning was that we started with a tyre that was a bit too hard on the left. When it started to rain I stopped and when I started again I felt that I didn't have enough grip on the left side. I tried to do another lap to see if the grip would improve, but in a really fast point, with the bike leaned over on the left side, I took a flight through the air!
"It was a big high-side and the first time I hit the ground was very hard. It's a really unlucky thing for us because here I can feel that our bike is working really well, as Colin has shown. The track is not like the old Assen, but anyway it's not so bad. I need to see how it will be when I can ride at the maximum and hopefully I will feel in better shape tomorrow so I can do that," he added.
"It was amazing to see Valentino back out on track in the afternoon after such a heavy fall," said team director Davide Brivio. "Despite the pain he was in he managed to complete some laps and also gave us some feedback so let's just hope his condition improves."
Although Rossi's accident has left him unusually vulnerable, and put a dent on his hopes of winning three races in a row to further reduce his 29 point championship deficit, title rivals Nicky Hayden and Loris Capirossi also suffered a problematic day one.
Championship leader Hayden fell from his Repsol Honda in the first free practice session and, although uninjured, went on to finish the day just tenth - while second in the points Capirossi is still suffering badly from the aftermath of his Barcelona accident and could only manage 16th as he battled breathing problems.