Marco Simoncelli was the top Italian rider during Friday practice for the San Marino MotoGP at Misano.
The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider cut the gap to the top from 0.9sec to 0.5sec at the end of the two sessions.
The former 250cc world champion is hopeful of further progress tomorrow, in particular in terms of fuel consumption.
“I am happy because we have improved quite a lot from this morning and I set a decent rhythm," said Simoncelli, who is chasing his second MotoGP podium. "We are already quicker than my qualifying lap time from last year, but we still need to improve more because Lorenzo and Stoner are three or four tenths quicker than me.
"Anyway for the moment I am satisfied and I am starting to like Misano more as a circuit - hopefully I will be in love with it by Sunday evening. The only thing I am worried about at the moment is fuel consumption and we have a few problems to solve in this area tomorrow.”
Team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama was ninth on his satellite spec RCV.
“I didn't have a good feeling this morning but in the afternoon things went much better. The grip was better and I was able to push more on the bike, which gives me confidence for tomorrow," he said.
"With some small improvements we can be pushing for a good position on the grid. I really want to have a good race for myself and for the team, who are all working so well.”