The sun came out and dried the Sepang circuit out on Saturday morning, providing a thrilling FP3 session as the MotoGP riders battled for a spot in Q2. Practice started with damp patches on the track, but the burning tropical sun soon scorched the remaining water away.
With a good track, riders focused mainly on ensuring their spot in Q2. The lead swapped regularly, with each of the top four taking turns to lead the way. In the end, a final fast lap by Maverick Viñales secured top spot, the Suzuki rider the only man to crack into the 1'59s, managing that on two laps of his last run. Marc Marquez slotted into second spot, the Repsol Honda recovered somewhat from his bout of gastroenteritis.
The two Movistar Yamaha riders followed the Repsol Honda of Marquez. Jorge Lorenzo led the way in third, but Valentino Rossi was close behind, just six hundredths of a second slower than his teammate. Hector Barbera used a tow to get himself into fifth, but was the first of the Ducatis, just staying ahead of Andrea Iannone. Aleix Espargaro, who has briefly led the session, ended in seventh, ahead of Andrea Dovzioso on the second factory Ducati. Pol Espargaro took ninth, while Alvaro Bautista finished in tenth, and once again secured a slot in Q2. Bautista's result is yet more confirmation that the Aprilia RS-GP has made big strides in recent races, and is not far from becoming a truly competitive motorcycle.