A soft tyre lap late in Friday's second practice session for the Italian MotoGP put Ducati's Nicky Hayden into third position, just 0.081s behind leader Jorge Lorenzo.
Hayden was not alone in trying a soft tyre at the end, but the American's next best lap was over one-second slower, which tallied with the ninth place achieved by team-mate Valentino Rossi (+0.941s) on the harder tyre.
“Things started out pretty well this morning. I did a 14-lap run with times that were steadily pretty good. From there, we haven't really made a big step with the hard tyre,” admitted Hayden, who lapped quicker with the hard tyre during the long morning run than in the afternoon session.
“My best time was with the soft, which we tried for a couple laps just to make sure there are no surprises when we put it in for qualifying.
“We're struggling a bit with grip on rear entry, which hasn't been the case lately, but we have some ideas to try. This track is tough, but I like it, and there's still time to improve before Sunday.”
As well as his poor position, Rossi struggled with chatter, but took some comfort from the number of laps he put on the rear tyre.
“We wanted to do a long run this afternoon to check the tyres, but I had to interrupt it due to a problem with chatter,” said the Mugello legend. “We had made a change to the fork setting compared to the morning and maybe that was what caused it because after returning to the previous setting and making some other small changes to the setup, it immediately worked a bit better.
“Anyway, I kept using the same tyre for the entire session, about 20 laps, and I did my best time at the end. Tomorrow we'll try again to do a long exit, although there shouldn't be any big problems with temperature or endurance here.
“We didn't try the soft tyre today, so tomorrow we'll also see how we go with that. There are still a few things to adjust, especially on the second half of the track, because I'm quite fast on the first part. We have some ideas, and we'll see tomorrow.”
Rossi was unbeaten at Mugello from 2002-2008, with Casey Stoner then taking Ducati's only Italian Grand Prix win in 2009. Rossi finished sixth last year for Ducati.