A successful afternoon practice session at Le Mans saw 2012 MotoGP title contender Jorge Lorenzo gain three positions and move within reach of the pace-setting Repsol Hondas.

The Yamaha star had been just sixth quickest and almost a second off the pace in the morning session. But changes to his M1 yielded the required rear traction in the afternoon, when Lorenzo finished 0.396s behind Casey Stoner.

Lorenzo starts this weekend's fourth round just one-point behind the Australian, who will retire at the end of 2012 and led both of the Le Mans practice sessions. However the Friday set-up work may count for little if the predicted rain arrives.

"This morning we had some difficulty entering the corners, I didn't trust the bike so much. This afternoon we made some changes to the rear and it improved the feeling and the lap time a lot," said Lorenzo.

"I did a half race simulation and we had a good pace. We are now ready for a dry race but everyone says it is going to rain which will completely change the conditions."

Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg revealed that the team had encountered similar set-up issues at the previous Estoril round.

"Not an easy first day of practice, this morning we struggled a bit with rear traction, especially during braking," he said. "We had the same issue in Estoril and we learned quite a bit there so we were able to make it a lot better. The handling improved a lot as a result in the afternoon. I think we need to make another step tomorrow but we are happy with the pace from the second practice."

Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies was fifth quickest.