The third practice session for the premier class was a slow cooker with a soap opera climax. Ten minutes it, it was business as usual, with a flu-ridden Marc Marquez attacking the combined timesheets and waiting for challengers. And he found an unusual one in Takaaki Nakagami, the LCR man flying in sector 3 on his way to the top of the timesheets. Mid session entertainment was provided by Fabio Quartararo who was keen to grab some headlines but all his good work was forgotten as fresh soft rubber hit the track for the final ten minutes.
It was the moment of truth in preparation for qualifying and Danilo Petrucci sealed the deal straight away by smashing the all time lap record around Mugello – what finer medicine for his flu than that? Pol Espargaro wasn’t too far from that record himself, the Spaniard getting a luxury tow from the reigning world champion on his way to second on the timesheets and securing a worth Q2 spot – a sight we’ve come to expect by now. Marquez meanwhile lost some laps shaking fists at traffic but eventually put in a reasonably clean lap to join the top three. The sister Honda of Nakagami held on to fourth place, ahead of Jack Miller’s Ducati and Quartararo’s Yamaha. The Frenchman once again found himself as lead Yamaha but only two hundredths of a second ahead of the factory machine of Maverick Viñales.
The final men to secure direct Q2 tickets were Cal Crutchlow, Franco Morbidelli and Friday revelation Pecco Bagnaia. The Pramac rookie didn’t shine as bright as in FP2 but eventually managed to improve his time just enough to dump some unusual contenders in Q1. The first of which being Andrea Dovizioso, making it a bittersweet morning for the Borgo Panigale factory. The Italian had to rely on one final flying lap but the final two sectors let him down and Dovizioso wrote his name under the Q1 listing.
It should be quite an exciting line-up as the Ducati man will be joined in Q1 by Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. The local favourite looked set for a top ten position until the gravel at the final turn greeted him like an old friend and made him late to the party. Alex Rins also made similar friends at Palagio on an outlap at the start of the session and then struggled to guide his second bike to do any better than 17th on the combined standings.