The weather played a major role in the third session of free practice for MotoGP, much as it had on Friday. The session was extended to a full hour because the rain had led to Friday's FP2 session being red flagged and then canceled, but the alternating wet and dry and the chase for a spot in Q2 turned almost the entire FP3 session into a frantic rush to set a fast lap. That meant there were big winners, and big losers.
The session started off dry, with the entire field rushing out to try to set a fast lap. The short, fast and tight Phillip Island circuit bunched the riders up, making free practice look far more like a race, riders slipstreaming and battling for position. Several times in the first 40 minutes, brief showers chased the riders back into the pits, then reappearing once the sun came out again.
Changing weather meant changing track conditions, and that meant a choice of tires. With heavy rain in the last 10 minutes, riders used every possible tire except the hard rear slick at some point during the session. That, in itself, tells the tale of the session.
Marc Marquez ended FP3 as the fastest man, the newly-crowned world champion gambling perfectly twice during the session. First, switching to intermediates early on, and taking top spot. Then, just before the rain came, opting for a front intermediate and slick rear to secure top spot once again.
Marquez held off a strong challenge by Jack Miller, the Australian using slicks to get within a tenth of the Repsol Honda, while the Espargaro brothers took third and fourth. It was Aleix on the Suzuki who bettered younger brother Pol on the Tech 3 Yamaha, though both were well over a second slower than Marquez. Andrea Dovizioso took fifth, the factory Ducati ahead of Scott Redding on the Pramac bike.
Stefan Bradl had an excellent session on the Aprilia, the German taking seventh spot ahead of Nicky Hayden, filling in on the Repsol Honda. Danilo Petrucci took ninth, while Hector Barbera made it four Ducatis in the top ten, and the last rider straight into Q2.
The weird conditions caught a good few riders out. Those who didn't get their timing just right found themselves out on the track with the wrong tires. That mistake claimed a few very high profile victims. Maverick Viñales finished in eleventh, the Suzuki rider furious with his position. Valentino Rossi ended up in twelfth, the Movistar Yamaha rider unable to find a fast lap late in the session.
But the biggest victim was Jorge Lorenzo, though his problem seemed to be more his own fear in the wet rather than anything else. Lorenzo spent nearly all of the session on wet tires, fearing the gamble on slicks. He suffered badly, ending dead last, and five seconds off the pace. This marks the first time that both Movistar Yamaha riders have been in Q1 at the same time.