Saturday morning at the Catalan GP didn’t disappoint as all but three riders improve their times from Friday
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins set a 1:39.547 in FP3 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya to lead the MotoGP field in qualifying, the Spaniard going 0.036 quicker than Friday’s quickest man Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) on a medium-front Michelin tyre, with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) slamming in a late lap to finish third overall as times tumbled in Barcelona.
Conditions were perfect for the premier class to do their thing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and straight from the off, Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez and Rins improved their times from Friday – Marquez going to the summit, Rins went to third. Other riders were improving in the early stages too, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi to most notable ones.
The action calmed down for the middle part of FP3 but it was all bubbling up nicely for a grandstand last 15 minutes, and sure enough, rookie sensation Quartararo took back P1 with just over 15 to go. This set off a chain reaction as everyone bar Rins went out on the soft-soft tyre combination, with the Suzuki rider hitting top spot on a medium front. The likes of Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) started to infiltrate the top ten as the timing screen started lighting up with red and orange sectors, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) getting himself into the all-important top ten in the last ten mins.
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However, FP3 would end badly for Petronas Yamaha SRT. Franco Morbidelli, while battling to keep his place in the top ten, suffered a big highside at Turn 13, with Quartararo then experiencing his first premier class crash at Turn 2 – luckily for the 20-year-old, he was safe from dropping out the top ten.
At the chequered flag, it was Rins, Quartararo and Crutchlow who led the way on three different manufacturers, with Rossi sitting 0.175 back from P1 in fourth. Viñales makes it three Yamahas in the top five ahead of qualifying, a very positive weekend so far for the factory YZR-M1 duo, with Mission Winnow Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso finding time to sit sixth.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) slammed in a late 1:39.857 to go 7th, the Spaniard heads Mugello winner Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) in eighth who in turn leads the Repsol Honda Team duo. Marquez could only manage P9 on the soft-soft combination, with teammate Lorenzo grabbing a Q2 spot in P10 – the two having a bit of an altercation in FP3.
Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) crashed at Turn 2 late on, rider ok.
A breathless and intense FP3 sets us up nicely for what looks to be an absolute belter of a qualifying in Barcelona. Who will grab pole? Your guess is as good as ours with the top 10 covered by 0.4, with the top 17 split by 0.9.
Top 10 combined:
1. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar Team) – 1:39.547
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.036
3. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) + 0.164
4. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.175
5. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.209
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 0.222
7. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.310
8. Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati) + 0.371
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.376
10. Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.402