The usual Saturday morning race pace routine unfolded for the premier class, with the exception of Valentino Rossi who was on an early mission to join the provisional top ten after a disappointing FP2. The Italian made light work of that task and was up to a seventh by lap four, then going back to regular scheduling. This mostly meant Marc Marquez being very consistent in race pace on a hard-medium tyre combination while the competition could not quite touch those times.
Andrea Iannone jumped the gun on the time attack and robbed Jorge Lorenzo of the fastest time of the weekend with 13 minutes left on the clock. That kickstarted the charge for the top ten and the lead changed hands several times before the roulette stopped back on Iannone, the Suzuki man once again consolidating his reputation as an extremely fast man over one lap. Danilo Petrucci got within a tenth of a second of his compatriot but had to settle for top Ducati honours in second position.
Cal Crutchlow was on a rollercoaster of his own, up and down the top 15, but eventually got off in the top three, although none of the leading trio looked like a massive threat in terms of race pace. Valentino Rossi was another rider who had drag himself from the outskirts of the top 10 to climb into fourth, around three tenths down on the leader.
Alvaro Bautista has been going from strength to strength this weekend and after a brief stint at the top of the standings, the Spaniard finished fifth. Marquez did not look like the one lap force he usually is around this track but he also came across a sluggish Aleix Espargaro on his hot lap and failed to improve on sixth position subsequently. Compatriot Maverick Viñales was very close behind the Honda, with Lorenzo only two thousandths of a second away from his Yamaha successor.
Alex Rins ensured another Q2 appearance from ninth position in FP3, with Dani Pedrosa pulling not a rabbit but finally a 1:20 time out of the hat to complete the top ten. The Honda’s fortune was Ducati’s misfortune, Andrea Dovizioso getting pushed out to 11th place and taking his turn in Q1 together with Aleix Espargaro, Jack Miller, Johann Zarco or Takaaki Nakagami.
A notable absence in the session was Mika Kallio, the KTM wildcard being withdrawn from the grand prix weekend due to a right knee injury sustained in a scary FP2 crash.