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.