Saturday morning saw the first fully dry session for the premier class, a welcome sight after the tricky and setup-irrelevant Friday. A little mist was still in the air and the extra bit of confidence on fresh slick tyres saw more crashes than in the previous rain-ridden practice sessions, the likes of Sam Lowes and Johann Zarco testing the gravel traps early into the session. Their colleagues had no problem going ten seconds faster than Friday right away and were about a second away from the circuit record after their race runs on the medium rear tyre.
Usually fast out the box, Marc Marquez led the field after the first run and it took until the qualifying dummy run of the final ten minutes for that lead to be challenged. After a slow and steady start, Andrea Dovizioso found himself behind his main title rival on their hot laps and stole his lead in the final five minutes. Marquez replied on the very next lap to go half a second faster and never relinquished that position again.
As Dovizioso pitted to fit a new set of softs, Maverick Viñales turned into Marquez’s main threat. The clear skies were probably most appreciated by the Spaniard, the Yamaha struggling badly on Friday but finishing second, three tenths behind Marquez, on Saturday morning.
Dani Pedrosa completed the top three with another Honda, the Spaniard starting a bit slow but showing good pace on his final run. Compatriot Alvaro Bautista would have been a more surprising sight in fourth position if it wasn’t for the man in fifth. After chasing world champion tail, Mika Kallio proved to be fast on his own as well, the KTM test rider mingling with the title contenders all session and dropping to fifth eventually, half a second off the leader and significantly faster than his teammates.
Dovizioso’s second go on the softs did not wield great results, the Ducati man settling for sixth spot. Aleix Espargaro placed his Aprilia into Q2 once again with a seventh place, ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone – the Italian crashing his Suzuki in the final minutes in turn five but keeping ninth position.
With all (or many) eyes on Valentino Rossi’s progress in the dry, the Italian salvaged a tenth place and the final Q2 ticket by only six hundredths of a second. Jorge Lorenzo may have lost a knee slider but also some of his Friday speed. The Spaniard didn’t look in great shape while sorting out his setup and he recovered to nearly join the top ten but had to settle for eleventh and a trip through Q1.
Amongst the other usual suspects, Danilo Petrucci looked to also struggle a bit on his Ducati in thirteenth and over a second down on Marquez. In the Tech 3 camp, Zarco did not recover much after his early crash, finishing nineteenth, with teammate Jonas Folger joining the crash list later in the session and looking a bit battered down in twenty-third spot.