One hour later than initially planned, the premier class hit the track for their first session of the day. It was a familiar sight at the top of the timesheets, with Franco Morbidelli placing yet another Yamaha in the lead for the final handful of minutes, nearly half a second faster than his rivals. However, the challengers were led by the Honda of Cal Crutchlow, who made a late jump into second position, ahead of Pol Espargaro.
Joan Mir was in no rush to join the action in the still cool morning conditions but when he did he joined the top positions straight away, ending the session fourth on the timesheets. Alex Marquez saw his name sliding down the combined standings throughout the session but a late time attack saw him join the top five and the Q2 lineup for the first time in his rookie year. Colleague Takaaki Nakagami had led the way early on but was pushed back down to sixth, half a second off top spot and two tenths ahead of Alex Rins. Aleix Espargaro’s late charge secured him eighth position in FP3 and the final ticket to Q2.
Maverick Vinales might not have featured in the top ten of the session but his FP2 benchmark remained the fastest time of the weekend, so the Spaniard was able to focus on race pace instead of a late time attack. Fabio Quartararo’s Friday time was also sufficient to see him through to Q2, but the Frenchman suffered a nasty highside over the kerbs at infamous turn 14 in the closing stages of FP3 and had to be taken to the medical centre for a check-up.
The late yellow flag led to a lap time cancellation for the only Ducati that was clinging onto a top 10 position, pushing Jack Miller all the way down to 17th overall. Andrea Dovizioso failed to significantly improve after an odd mid-session crash at turn 6, which left him 13th overall and ahead of all of his colleagues, turning Q1 into a Ducati Battle Royale.