Aspar’s Jake Dixon enjoyed a session topping Saturday as FP3 action concluded with a 2’09.004 lap for the Brit.
Red Bull KTM’s Augusto Fernandez and Flexbox HP40’s Aron Canet were the closest challengers after Fermín Aldeguer’s record lap was deleted, amongst others afte the flag. Elf Marc VDS’s Sam Lowes safe and into Q2 in the late session chaos.
The final free practice action for the intermediate class saw Tony Arbolino back in charge from the outset as the Elf Marc VDS rider circulated on low 2’10 pace on his opening laps. Canet and Somkiat Chantra sat second and third on their respective Flexbox and Honda Team Asia machines with KTM’s Pedro Acosta challenging Dixon for fourth.
Lowes sat sixth after five laps of the vast 5.5km track as Canet hit the front with a mid 2’09 effort. Marcel Schrötter and Arbolino battling for second as they edged closer to the overall target with MB Conveyors’s Friday man Aldeguer arriving to fourth shortly after.
Ai Ogura joined his Honda teammate for fifth and sixth after 15 minutes of action as Fernandez demoted former partner Lowes further back. Jorge Navarro and Acosta completing the top ten at the halfway stage with Celestino Vietti and Jeremy Alcoba heading Dixon from the fringes.
Schrötter was the only rider in the top 14 to have improved on their Friday times as the final 20 minutes began. Lowes riding solo on track as he looked to fine-tune his pace from fifth, the Brit on the bubble of promotion, with a 2’09.952 fastest overall.
Cameron Beaubier continued to fly the home talent flag from 14th in the session, and third overall. His American Racing teammate Sean Dylan Kelly returning to the circuit after a bruising highside on Friday afternoon from the back of the pack with Italtrans Joe Roberts running 20th as Saturday morning unfolded. Mooney VR46’s Niccolò Antonelli also returning to action after a stomach bug prevented his progress on the opening day.
The last ten minutes kicked off with a turn six crash for Chantra as the pack set out for the final runs. The season times beginning to shuffle but the pace remaining down on yesterday’s best.
Five to go and Canet advanced the target with a 2’09.091, Ogura the next to improve from eighth overall. The timing screens finally igniting in red as Dixon stormed to the top on the bubble of 2’09. Disaster striking his countryman and Lowes crashed out in the final sector, Navarro doing likewise at turn 16. With yellow flags flying, Dixon set out for a repeat, just to be sure, Canet setting the pace once again with a 2’08.557 before Dixon bailed out under the waved yellows and the Italian’s time was deleted.
Further crashes saw Acosta down on his final effort as Aldeguer hit the top with a 2’08.783. Fernandez denying Beaubier for third in the dying seconds as they bettered Canet at the flag with the American’s time also deleted moments later.
After a nervous wait for the post-session adjustments, Aldeguer’s new all-time record was removed, with Dixon promoted to the head of the times before his too looked to be taken away. Aldeguer’s Friday effort initially returning to dominance in the confusion with Lowes safe in the promotion zone and through to Q2.