Under baby blue skies and beautifully dry asphalt, the premier class got some solid race pace work done in FP3, ahead of the tense final shootout for Q2 positions. Unfortunately, the session also featured a red flag following a frightening crash for Jorge Martin at turn seven, which saw the rookie taken to the Medical Centre by ambulance but thankfully conscious. Once action restarted, riders were left with only four minutes to make an impact on the timesheets and some needed it more than others. Fabio Quartararo casually strolled out of pitlane after his rivals were long gone, confident in his top time and with very impressive pace until that point. The Frenchman needn’t have bothered as no one challenged best time and he finished the morning at the top of the pile.
Franco Morbidelli was one of the first riders to challenge Friday’s top 10 and was back to his best after a tricky outing in Qatar. The Italian went under the radar on Friday but confirmed his speed in FP3 by only trailing the leader by half a tenth. Pecco Bagnaia was the lead Ducati after a solid session partly spent at the top of the timing screens and eventually finished seven hundredths of a second behind Quartararo. Colleague Johann Zarco was another tenth down, while Alex Rins was the sole Suzuki in the top ten, making a late jump into the top five.
Jack Miller in sixth position was the last man within half a second of Quartararo, while Luca Marini impressed with seventh place and his first time going directly into Q2. Aleix Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira were fast and consistent throughout the session and managed to secure Q2 spots as well. Maverick Vinales was one of the riders who had to rely on their final flying lap and the Spaniard just about held onto the top 10.
Alex Marquez spent quite a bit of time inside Q2 worthy positions but a highside at turn 3 on his final flying lap allowed rivals to jump ahead and it made a bad day even worse for the LCR Honda team, where Takaaki Nakagami sat out half the session due to severe collarbone pain following Friday’s crash. Joan Mir had no obvious excuse for only finishing 12th on the timesheets, seven tenths of a second slower than Quartararo and marginally faster than Pol Espargaro and Valentino Rossi. After putting almost full distance in a set of medium tyres, Marc Marquez struggled to get the best of the soft rear and coupled with some mistakes and seeing his brother fly through the air right in front of him, that left the Honda man down in 15th position and on the pretty competitive list for Q1.