A predictable name at the top yet an unpredictable script to the session. Marc Marquez started off on the medium rear tyre and didn’t take long to improve the best time of the weekend, being the first and only rider into the 1:47s, the rest of the grid struggling to get within a second of his time for much of the session.
Although things didn’t go quite as smoothly for the rest of FP3, the world championship leader involved in an unusual incident with fifteen minutes to go. Nicky Hayden slid out in turn fourteen, Marquez crashing behind him soon after, the Honda collecting an unlucky Pol Espargaro as Hayden and the marshals narrowly avoided the incoming bikes, the trio miraculously uninjured. Marquez remounted with a sore shoulder but failed to improve in the final part of the session.
The final minute’s shoot-out for top qualifying positions closed the gap to the leader, Cal Crutchlow once again in the top positions, the LCR rider second and almost two tenths down on the leader. The Suzuki of Maverick Viñales was third and quite close to the Hondas, the first Yamaha in fourth, a late charge from Jorge Lorenzo leaving him almost half a second down on the leader.
Aleix Espargaro also secured his Q2 spot by running fifth in the session, ahead of Scott Redding, the Pramac Ducati rider putting in an impressive last lap to finish in front of Andrea Dovizioso. Dani Pedrosa didn’t improve his Friday time in the colder conditions of the morning but his FP2 time was enough to guarantee him a Q2 spot.
It proved to be a challenging morning for title contenders, with Valentino Rossi also crashing into turn nine on his first lap out the box after his foot slipped off the footpeg. A change of leathers later, he went back out but failed to improve, dropping to ninth.
After an incredibly eventful morning, Pol Espargaro was lucky to snatch the final Q2 ticket, the Spaniard only putting in seven laps after two separate incidents gave the Tech 3 garage a headache. By the time the clash with Marquez came about, Espargaro had already hit the floor in turn two, his bike wiping out an unsuspecting Danilo Petrucci, who was just coming out the pits. These were just a few of several crashes during the session, the cold conditions catching out the likes of Lowes and Bautista as well.