Jorge Lorenzo will start his quest for a third successive Mugello MotoGP victory from second on the grid on Sunday.

The reigning double champion thought he had done enough for pole after a flying 1m 47.6s first lap was followed by two further improvements.

However title leader Dani Pedrosa, who had been languishing down in seventh, finally got a clean lap together and went on to deny Lorenzo by just 0.069s as the chequered flag was waved.

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"I was really surprised when I made a '47.6 on the first lap. I didn't expect to be so fast but also I didn't expect Dani to be so quick on the last lap. I expected to stay on pole. But sometimes it works out that way," shrugged Lorenzo.

"The important thing is to make a good start tomorrow, to get in front and to go away if possible. If that is not possible, the race is long and we have to be consistent. We have to improve some small details, but in general the bike is better here than at the other tracks."

Lorenzo explained: "We still suffer a little bit when the weather is hotter, we don't have the same grip. Even with this issue we have been competitive though, in the free practice and also in the qualifying."

With third on the grid Andrea Dovizioso almost half-a-second from pole, Marc Marquez a sore sixth and Valentino Rossi seventh, Lorenzo and Pedrosa will start as clear favourites for the race.

Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg is confident that his rider has the pace to halt Honda's three race win streak.

"We have a very good pace and Jorge did two fantastic laps," said the Dutchman. "Dani was in seventh or sixth and panicking a bit, I think he had to do it in the last lap and he was one tenth faster.

"We would of course like to be on pole but tomorrow is a different story."

After problems in the wet at Le Mans, Lorenzo is 17 points behind Pedrosa and 13 from Marquez.