Pecco Bagnaia tops the timesheets ahead of Fabio Quartararo in FP3 as the whole field is separated by only 1.5 seconds.
The sun was shining over the Red Bull Ring this morning as the road to qualifying began. With rain almost certain for tomorrow, it was essential for the riders to get out there and get to Q2 for the best chance of a good starting spot.
There are a couple of notable mentions this weekend with Dani Pedrosa doing a wildcard ride for the Red Bull KTM squad. He looked pretty solid yesterday and sits in an impressive 11th. The tiny Spaniard still looks quick after rumours that he’d been told to race because he’s slow in testing. His bike gave up on him in FP1 yesterday and he leant the KTM against the barriers on the outside of Turn 3.
Cal Crutchlow is also returning, standing in for the injured Franco Morbidelli in the Petronas Yamaha SRT camp. He said he, “might as well have been wearing an orange bib” yesterday as he was a good 2.5 seconds off Takaaki Nakagami’s quickest time of the weekend from Free Practice One. He mentioned that everything “felt alien” to him – even his leathers – after a long four-month break from racing, so was hoping to feel a bit more comfortable today.
Aprilia Racing’s Lorenzo Savadori was fastest in the damp FP2 session, so he may be one to watch for a good result if the race is wet tomorrow. His team-mate Aleix Espargaro looked quick in the dry, sitting pretty in third going into Free Practice Three.
The first action of the session was Fabio Quartararo running wide to let his team-mate Maverick Vinales past. Vinales followed him onto the run-off and it was clear he wanted to follow his championship leading team-mate.
The man to set an early quick lap was Pramac Racing rider, Jorge Martin. He moved into second with only a few minutes gone. He is in the process of getting his season back on track after a nasty injury sustained at Portimao.
Maverick Vinales of Monster Energy Yamaha looked good early in the session, going top. The Yamahas are five mph slower than the Ducatis through the speed traps but amazingly, the Factory Team still look really strong.
Reigning World Champion Joan Mir also looks good this weekend on-board his Suzuki. They have finally fitted the rear-lowering device pioneered by Ducati, and it immediately looked to improve his lap times after his first run. Footage of him using the device was very interesting to watch, as he learned how and where to use it. It was very aggressive coming onto the straights, unsettling the bike as he drove out of the corner, yet it still improves his times. Whether Suzuki choose to use it consistently is yet to be seen. He has been hovering around the Top five all weekend. He went top of the timing sheets with 20 minutes to go.
KTM looked to be having a difficult weekend with Dani Pedrosa being the top KTM in just outside the Top ten. Miguel Oliveira is a bit battered and bruised after he was launched from his bike on the exit of Turn 3 in FP1 yesterday. His team-mate Brad Binder looked a little bit lost getting no higher than 12th in the first 20 minutes of the session.
Marc Marquez shot to the top of the timesheets with 11 minutes left of the session. He’s been riding motocross (without jumps apparently) in the summer break to build the strength up in his broken arm, so his fitness is getting better and better, race-on-race. He was quickly displaced by Maverick Vinales as the session began to hot up.
Pecco Bagnaia has had a difficult weekend until seven minutes before the end of the session. He went 3rd to become top Ducati. His team-mate Jack Miller was struggling to get a decent lap together.
Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales came to blows close to the end of FP3. Quartararo stuffed it up the inside of his team-mate at Turn 3 and barged him off-line. Maverick expressed his displeasure with the move as they rolled back down pitlane with a bit of arm waving. There was no reaction from his French colleague.
With three minutes left, Fabio Quartararo went from 12th to second but his lap was cancelled due to a track limits infringement. He tried again and went top, displacing Pecco Bagnaia. Luca Marini went down at the end of the session.
Pecco Bagnaia was not finished though as he went 0.028 seconds faster than Fabio Quartararo right at the end of the session. Jorge Martin went fourth with a great lap at the end of the session, to put him in good stead for qualifying.
The Italian Pecco Bagnaia topped the session after all the riders took the chequered flag, just ahead of the Monster Energy Team duo of Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales. Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin was fourth and he fell at Turn 1 after an embarrassing topple over. Joan Mir was 5th on the Suzuki. Johann Zarco was sixth in front of Marc Marquez, Aleix Espargaro and Jack Miller with yesterday’s pace setter Takaaki Nakagami in tenth.
Brad Binder was fifteenth but 0.6 seconds off the fastest time and this really shows how close MotoGP is at the moment. Valentino Rossi validated his retirement reasons as he finished the session in 19th and has to go through Q1. It’s not where the veteran wants to be. Wildcard Dani Pedrosa finished the session in a solid 12th so he is a candidate for moving into Q2 later on. Cal Crutchlow was propping up the field in 23rd but unbelievably was only 1.5 seconds off the pace as he learns how to ride a MotoGP bike again.
Rain expected tomorrow so expect the qualifying session later on at 14:10 (GMT+2) to be intense!
Featured Image: MotoGP.com