Fluffy white clouds on a light blue background made for a much improved picture on Saturday morning and it wasn’t just photographers who were grateful. Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi were on a mission to get back into the top ten, while Dani Pedrosa aimed to make it three out of three. Challenge accepted.
The first part of the session belonged to Marc Marquez, who didn’t take long to make the jump from fourteenth in FP2 to the top of the standings in FP3 in just four laps on a medium tyre combination, taking one and a half seconds off his best Friday time. However, that only improved Dani Pedrosa’s FP2 time by seven thousandths of a second.
But it was the final ten minutes that decided the outcome, when, as usual, the tug of war on softer option rear tyres started. Rossi was the first to strike after struggling outside of the top ten until that point, his lead all too brief. Pedrosa left it late to improve on his Friday benchmark but soon reclaimed his place on the practice throne to lead by seven tenths of a second.
That gap did not last and, perhaps surprisingly, it was Jorge Lorenzo who brought it down to only two tenths – a morning of mixed fortunes for Ducati, with one man in second and his teammate in Q1 after Dovizioso finished sixteenth.
Title rivals Maverick Viñales and Marc Marquez were third and fourth, the last riders within half a second of Pedrosa. Rossi dropped into fifth, with Cal Crutchlow close behind. Jonas Folger gets one over his teammate with a seventh position to Zarco’s ninth, the Tech 3 duo separated by Scott Redding in eighth.
The top ten was completed by Jack Miller, eight tenths down on Pedrosa and dissipating the Honda domination of Friday. Although close very to tenth position, Andrea Iannone, Tito Rabat, Danilo Petrucci, Aleix Espargaro and Alvaro Bautista will have to battle Dovizioso in Q1.