A frantic second practice session for the Dutch MotoGP at Assen ended with defending winner Ben Spies on top of the timesheets from Cal Crutchlow, Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista.

None of those four riders have taken a podium finish so far this year and the session ended with the top eleven riders covered by less than half-a-second!

Factory Yamaha star Spies didn't lead until his 23rd and penultimate lap, which proved the fastest of the day - but only 0.006s quicker than the injured Crutchlow (Yamaha Tech 3).

Hayden had created the rare sight of a Ducati on top of the dry timesheets with seven minutes to go, before Spies and Crutchlow moved ahead. The American finished just a tenth from the top.

Silverstone pole sitter Bautista didn't head the session, but was consistently among the frontrunners on a day when a switch to the softer rear tyre propelled many riders up the order in the closing stages.

World championship leader Jorge Lorenzo, fastest in the morning, again led for large parts of the afternoon before being pushed down to fifth - but just 0.191s from team-mate Spies.

Like Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa appeared to stick with the harder rear tyre on his way to sixth and the top Repsol Honda rider (+0.214s).

Andrea Dovizioso followed for Tech 3 while Valentino Rossi, who jumped from eleventh to fourth while following Pedrosa just after the midway mark, slipped down to eighth (+0.430s).

Pramac's Hector Barbera fell early in the session on his way to an eventual ninth, while reigning world champion Casey Stoner recorded just four flying laps as he repeatedly returned to the Repsol pits on his way to tenth place (+0.438s).

Lorenzo starts round seven with a 25-point advantage over Stoner.

Aleix Espargaro overturned Aspar Aprilia team-mate Randy de Puniet's morning advantage to claim top CRT honours in twelfth, with a lap time 1.7s from Spies and 1.2s behind Honda LCR rookie Stefan Bradl.

Cardion AB Ducati's Karel Abraham made his return to action with 16th place out of the 21 riders, after missing the British MotoGP due to finger fractures in his left hand sustained in testing at Aragon.

The Assen circuit is the only survivor from the inaugural 1949 World Championship calendar. The Dutch TT is traditionally held on the last Saturday in June, Sunday racing having originally been frowned upon for religious reasons.

Final practice takes place on Friday morning with qualifying in the afternoon.

Thursday practice (2):

1. Ben Spies
2. Cal Crutchlow
3. Nicky Hayden
4. Alvaro Bautista
5. Jorge Lorenzo
6. Dani Pedrosa
7. Andrea Dovizioso
8. Valentino Rossi
9. Hector Barbera
10. Casey Stoner
11. Stefan Bradl
12. Aleix Espargaro
13. Randy De Puniet
14. Michele Pirro
15. Yonny Hernandez
16. Karel Abraham
17. Mattia Pasini
18. Colin Edwards
19. James Ellison
20. Ivan Silva
21. Danilo Petrucci