Ben Spies, who took his only MotoGP win at Assen last year, was back on top of the timesheets by the end of Thursday practice for the 2012 Dutch TT.

The Factory Yamaha star, who arrives at round seven just eleventh in the championship after a torrid start to the season, edged out Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow by just 0.006s as soft tyres came into play at the end of the afternoon session.

But the Texan was also happy with his performance on the harder rear tyre and put over a race distance on the front.

"Today was a good day, both this morning and this afternoon," said Spies, fourth in the morning. "In the second session we did almost race distance on the tyres in case it rains tomorrow to be ready for Saturday.

"We had quick times and then tried the soft tyre at the end of the session and were able to put down some quick laps with over race distance on the front tyre.

"The bike feels good so we're going to continue on this path and try to make the bike even better for tomorrow and Saturday."

Team-mate and title leader Jorge Lorenzo, who led the morning session, stuck with the harder rear tyre and was fifth quickest in the afternoon - when 0.471s covered the top eleven riders!