Dani Pedrosa repeated his position at the top of the free practice timesheets on Friday afternoon at Le Mans, during a session that saw the top four covered by just 0.166s.

Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez have shared wins in the opening three events of this year and likewise dominated much of this afternoon's practice.

But the Spanish top three was broken by Valentino Rossi, who moved from fourth to second with five minutes remaining.

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The Italian was then knocked down a spot when rookie Marquez moved into second place, 0.134s behind Repsol Honda team-mate Pedrosa on his final lap.

Rossi remained the top Yamaha rider, a fraction clear of team-mate Lorenzo.

LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl got the better of Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow for fifth place, with Ducati team-mates Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden setting almost identical times in seventh and eighth.

The Desmosedicis were half-a-second from the top, with Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista in ninth and Aspar CRT star Aleix Espargaro completing a top ten covered by 1.1s.

The temperamental Le Mans weather lived up to its reputation with a rain and hail shower in the closing minutes of the proceeding Moto3 session.

Fortunately the sun was shining once again as the second MotoGP session got underway, although damp patches meant riders were initially reluctant to leave the pits.

Lorenzo proved grip levels were more than adequate by beating Pedrosa's morning best within ten minutes, with Marquez edging ahead shortly after.

The 20-year-old rookie ruled the session until just after the halfway point, when Lorenzo - whom Marquez tangled with at Jerez - put Yamaha back on top. Pedrosa returned to the top on the brink of the final ten minutes, then set his best time on his 21st and final lap.

Andrea Iannone did his healing arm no favours by falling and missing the final ten minutes, costing him eleventh place to fellow rookie Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha).

Pramac Ducati's Ben Spies is missing his second event in a row to undergo further rehabilitation on his healing shoulder. The Texan is being replaced by Ducati test rider Michele Pirro.

Pirro was 14th this afternoon, just behind home hero Randy de Puniet (Aspar).

Third practice takes place on Saturday morning, after which the ten fastest riders will be given direct access to the second and final part of qualifying. Should the forecast rain arrive tomorrow morning, the top ten places will be as shown below.

All riders improved this afternoon, with Pedrosa 0.6s under his morning time and within a few tenths of his own race lap record.

Free practice (2):

1. Dani Pedrosa
2. Marc Marquez
3. Valentino Rossi
4. Jorge Lorenzo
5. Stefan Bradl
6. Cal Crutchlow
7. Andrea Dovizioso
8. Nicky Hayden
9. Alvaro Bautista
10. Aleix Espargaro
11. Bradley Smith
12. Andrea Iannone
13. Randy De Puniet
14. Michele Pirro
15. Hector Barbera
16. Colin Edwards
17. Claudio Corti
18. Karel Abraham
19. Danilo Petrucci
20. Hiroshi Aoyama
21. Yonny Hernandez
22. Bryan Staring
23. Michael Laverty
24. Lukas Pesek