Valentino Rossi seized the top spot in FP3 when he became the only rider to drop into a sub, two-minute laptime at the Sepang circuit Saturday morning. Rossi's set his 1'59.947 -- the weekend's fastest time by any rider -- with no time left in the third practice. Johann Zarco, who led the session late, was bumped into second by the Italian's final lap. Dani Pedrosa jumped from 11th into third near the end of practice as riders began switching to the soft-option rear tire in an attempt to ensure a top-10 finish.
Andrea Dovizioso grabbed fourth, the Ducati rider's first Sepang practice shy of the top spot. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who led FP3 briefly, continued his good form from the previous day's wet FP2 with a fifth. Jack Miller took advantage of the heat -- the track reached 45 degrees celcius (113 farenheit) by the end of the morning session -- to take sixth. Cal Crutchlow (7th) finished just clear of Andrea Iannone (8th).
Championship leader Marc Marquez never threatened FP3's top times to take ninth. Rossi's Yamaha teammate Maverick Vinales just squeaked into the top ten by five-hundredths of a second. The top 10 riders go directly into Q2 later in the day along with the top two finishers from Q1.
Most riders spent much of the early FP3 session working on setup with the hard-option rear tire -- the likely Sunday choice for the race in sweltering conditions on the 5.5 km track. But with 11 minutes to go, teams began fitting the bikes with the softer rear tire in order to push the lap times down and ensure a trip straight to Q2.
Miller struck first with a 2'00.406 to take the top spot. But five minutes later, Rossi briefly seized the top of the timesheet only to be bumped by Jorge Lorenzo with a 2'00.163. Then Pedrosa, who has been circulating in 11th spot, shot to the front with a 2'00.124. He soon was bumped to second by Johann Zarco.
Then Rossi struck last and best, dipping once into the 1'59s after much of the field had taken the checkered flag.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time||Diff. / Prev.|
|2||5||Johann ZARCO||Yamaha||2'00.024||0.077 / 0.077|
|3||26||Dani PEDROSA||Honda||2'00.087||0.140 / 0.063|
|4||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati||2'00.124||0.177 / 0.037|
|5||99||Jorge LORENZO||Ducati||2'00.149||0.202 / 0.025|
|6||43||Jack MILLER||Honda||2'00.190||0.243 / 0.041|
|7||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Honda||2'00.199||0.252 / 0.009|
|8||29||Andrea IANNONE||Suzuki||2'00.394||0.447 / 0.195|
|9||93||Marc MARQUEZ||Honda||2'00.467||0.520 / 0.073|
|10||25||Maverick VIÑALES||Yamaha||2'00.695||0.748 / 0.228|
|11||42||Alex RINS||Suzuki||2'00.746||0.799 / 0.051|
|12||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||2'00.864||0.917 / 0.118|
|13||17||Karel ABRAHAM||Ducati||2'00.876||0.929 / 0.012|
|14||38||Bradley SMITH||KTM||2'01.013||1.066 / 0.137|
|15||76||Loris BAZ||Ducati||2'01.292||1.345 / 0.279|
|16||44||Pol ESPARGARO||KTM||2'01.295||1.348 / 0.003|
|17||53||Tito RABAT||Honda||2'01.382||1.435 / 0.087|
|18||22||Sam LOWES||Aprilia||2'01.506||1.559 / 0.124|
|19||45||Scott REDDING||Ducati||2'01.752||1.805 / 0.246|
|20||8||Hector BARBERA||Ducati||2'01.847||1.900 / 0.095|
|21||60||Michael VAN DER MARK||Yamaha||2'01.984||2.037 / 0.137|
|22||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||Ducati||2'02.204||2.257 / 0.220|