Matthieu Pavon posted the best score of the second round at the inaugural Oman Open to move two shots clear at the midway point after Matthew Southgate's 18th-hole collapse.
English pair Southgate and Paul Waring had shared an overnight lead at seven under after the opening round, with the former then attempting to pull clear on Friday as he - like Pavon - chases a first career European Tour win.
An eagle on the 12th contributed to a three-shot lead ahead of the final hole - Waring having struggled down the back nine - but a poor tee shot and a double bogey cut Southgate's advantage and Pavon, teeing off later, took advantage.
Five birdies on the front nine brought the Frenchman into contention and he ended the day on 11 under after a seven-under round of 65.
Despite the lead, Pavon is relaxed heading into the weekend: "I'm feeling good in my game, very happy right now, so I'll just take it easy and we will see what happens.
"I really enjoyed every part of my game today."
Southgate is in second, with Waring and compatriot Chris Wood another shot back - the latter having gone round in six under after an eagle on the seventh.
Former Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke will make the cut for the second time this month, having ended an 18-month wait at the Maybank Championship, and is tied for ninth after a superb long par save on the final hole.