Filip Salac topped the timesheets in the third and final Practice session for the 2023 Moto2 Grand Prix of The Americas at COTA as a number of fancied runners were prevented from going straight through to Q2.
With damp patches preventing riders in the preceding Moto3 P3 session from improving on their Friday benchmarks, it initially appeared tough-and-go as to whether the order that stood after P2 would stand to the end of P3.
However, after a nervy first few minutes, lap times soon came down to challenge Pedro Acosta for the top spot with Tony Arbolino and then Barry Baltus - enjoying the strongest start to a Moto2 event in his career - getting turns at the top of the order.
In the end though it took a late effort by QJmotor Gresini's Salac to shake out on top with a 2m 09.385s lap, the Czech rider consolidating his strong start to the season as he chases a second pole position of the season.
On the circuit where he achieved a career best ninth in 2022, Fieten Olie Racing GP rider Baltus looks on course to challenge that this weekend, the Belgian an outside bet for pole after going second.
The top two in the championship standings, Arbolino and Acosta made it into Q2 comfortably, as did Celestino Vietti, the Fantic rider one of a small handful to overturn difficult Fridays by making big enough improvements to snatch one of the 14 Q2 spots.
This included Manuel Gonzalez too, who jumped from 17th to sixth place, ahead of top Briton Sam Lowes, the Marc VDS rider lucky to set his time before taking a slow tumble at Turn 13.
Joe Roberts flew the home flag in eighth, ahead of Jeremy Alcoba and Aron Canet, the Spaniard lucky to escape through after missing part of the session with technical issues.
Jake Dixon ended the session 11th, from Albert Arenas - the highest-placed rider not to improve on P2 - Dennis Foggia and Ai Ogura, the 2022 Moto2 runner-up rider, who is still recovering from injury, showing his first burst of pace this season to squeeze into Q2, albeit at the expense of his Honda Idemitsu team-mate Somkiat Chantra.
Chantra was one of four riders to pay the price for crashes that cost them a direct Q2 passage, the Thai rider coming down at Turn 8, while Darryn Binder's Turn 2 fall late on also stopped his progress.
However, it was the SpeedUp team that courted the lion's share of the bad luck during the session with both Fermin Aldeguer and Alonso Lopez crashing moments apart separately at the same corner.
Aldeguer suffered most, his high-side out of Turn 1 causing him to clatter down hard on his Boscoscuro. Though he managed to push away to avoid a bigger smash into the barrier, he was taken to the medical centre for checks.
Lopez - the pole sitter in Argentina - meanwhile, came down further round the corner and wouldn't get back out on track before the flag.
Elsewhere, Rory Skinner ended his session in 25th after a minor improvement, just over a second shy of a Q2 spot.
Moto3 Results after P3 - Grand Prix of The Americas | COTA
|Grand Prix of the Americas, USA Moto2 | P1 + P2 + P3 Combined Results | Circuit of The Americas | Round 3 / 21|
|1||Filip Salac||CZE||QJmotor Gresini||Kalex||2m 09.385|
|2||Barry Baltus||BEL||Fieten Olie Racing GP||Kalex||2m 09.539|
|3||Tony Arbolino||ITA||Elf Marc VDS Racing||Kalex||2m 09.736|
|4||Pedro Acosta||ESP||Red Bull KTM Ajo||Kalex||2m 09.751|
|5||Celestino Vietti||ITA||Fantic Racing||Kalex||2m 09.825|
|6||Manuel Gonzalez||ESP||Yamaha VR46 Master Camp||Kalex||2m 09.931|
|7||Sam Lowes||GBR||Elf Marc VDS Racing||Kalex||2m 10.010|
|8||Joe Roberts||USA||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||2m 10.013|
|9||Jeremy Alcoba||ESP||QJmotor Gresini||Kalex||2m 10.057|
|10||Aron Canet||ESP||Pons Wegow Los40||Kalex||2m 10.093|
|11||Jake Dixon||GBR||GasGas Aspar Team||Kalex||2m 10.122|
|12||Albert Arenas||ESP||Red Bull KTM Ajo||Kalex||2m 10.362|
|13||Dennis Foggia||ITA||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex||2m 10.365|
|14||Ai Ogura||JPN||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||Kalex||2m 10.486|
|15||Bo Bendsneyder||NED||Pertamina Mandalika SAG||Kalex||2m 10.490|
|16||Somkiat Chantra||THA||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||Kalex||2m 10.502|
|17||Darryn Binder||RSA||Husqvarna Intact GP||Kalex||2m 10.654|
|18||Alonso Lopez||ESP||Speed Up Racing||Boscoscuro||2m 10.769|
|19||Fermin Aldeguar||ESP||Speed Up Racing||Boscoscuro||2m 10.686|
|20||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||ITA||Pertamina Mandalika SAG||Kalex||2m 10.690|
|21||Sergio Garcia||ESP||Pons Wegow Los40||Kalex||2m 11.036|
|22||Lukas Tulovic||GER||Husqvarna Intact GP||Kalex||2m 11.191|
|23||Zonta vd Goorbergh||NED||Fieten Olie Racing GP||Kalex||2m 11.486|
|24||Marcos Ramirez||ESP||Forward Team||Forward||2m 11.533|
|25||Rory Skinner||GBR||American Racing||Kalex||2m 11.599|
|26||Sean Dylan Kelly||USA||American Racing||Kalex||2m 12.145|
|27||Borja Gomez||ESP||Fantic Racing||Kalex||2m 12.224|
|28||Izan Guevara||ESP||GasGas Aspar Team||Kalex||2m 12.500|
|29||David Sanchis||ESP||Forward Team||Forward||2m 13.231|
|30||Soichiro Minamimoto||JPN||Yamaha VR46 Master Camp||Kalex||2m 14.824|