MotoGP title leader Jorge Lorenzo knocked almost four-tenths from his morning time to stay ahead of the field during Friday's second practice for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

That put the Factory Yamaha star on the brink of beating the official circuit best lap, set in last year's qualifying session by Casey Stoner, despite a low speed tip-off in the turn one gravel.

But unlike this morning, when Lorenzo had held a clear half-second advantage, the Spaniard's nearest rivals almost bridged the gap this afternoon.

Newly re-signed Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, now Lorenzo's closest title challenger after his first victory of the season last Sunday in Germany, got within 0.031s.

Ducati's Nicky Hayden then lapped 0.081s from the top on a soft tyre towards the end of the session, with Pramac Ducati's Hector Barbera also using the softer rear to claim fourth place and the top satellite rider (+.178s).

That time was set on his spare bike - Barbera having earlier halted the session, in order for debris to be cleaned from the circuit, after falling from his GP12. Barbara's bike had bounced through the gravel before coming to a rest on the track, kicking up gravel dirt in the process.

Top home rider in both sessions was Andrea Dovizioso, sixth this morning and then fifth this afternoon for Monster Yamaha Tech 3. Dovizioso, who will be targeting his fourth podium of the season on Sunday, was only 0.232s from Lorenzo.

Reigning world champion Casey Stoner dropped from second this morning to sixth in the afternoon. The Repsol Honda rider's best lap (+0.454s) was his last, despite a moment through the final turn.

A few minutes earlier, Stoner put a harsh pass on Ioda CRT rider Danilo Petrucci, presumably for holding him up.

Ben Spies, who fell in the morning, was seventh fastest for the Factory Yamaha team in the afternoon, with Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow - who suffered a technical mishap in FP1 - completing a top eight covered by 0.574s.

Mugello legend Valentino Rossi, trailed by Hayden in the closing stages, stuck with the hard tyre on his way to ninth place, 0.941s from Lorenzo. Honda LCR's Stefan Bradl was tenth, followed by Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista, who ran into the turn one gravel this morning, then lowsided at the same corner this afternoon.

The San Carlo Honda Gresini team is back in white colours from this weekend.

A tail wind this afternoon pushed the highest top speed up a little to 346.7km/h, again set by Barbera, although the official 349.3km/h (217.04mph) record - set at Mugello by Pedrosa in 2009 - remains unbroken.

Cardion AB Ducati's Karel Abraham, who suffered left hand injuries sustained in testing at Aragon, is missing Mugello, but unlike last weekend at Sachsenring he has not been replaced by Franco Battaini.

Lorenzo has won four races this year, Stoner (-20 points) three and Pedrosa (-14 points) one. Pedrosa has finished every race, while Lorenzo and Stoner have each suffered one DNF.

Friday practice (2):#

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


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