Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo was back in command of the FP3 times at the Circuit of the Americas on Saturday.
The current MotoGP Champion topped the standings with a 2’02.361 on his final lap of the 45-minute session from an impressive showing by Gresini Racing’s Enea Bastianini. Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller continuing to enjoy the Texas ride in third.
Monster Energy’s Franky Morbidelli took charge as FP3 fired up on Saturday morning in America. Miller and Pramac’s Johann Zarco bickering for early Ducati honours before Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales arrived and Alex Marquez crashed out on the LCR Honda.
Pol Espargaro looked to be back on form as he headed the early times on his Repsol Honda after a difficult and painful Friday for the 30-year-old before the leading trio struck back once again. Bastianini running fastest after 20 minutes with a 2’03.410, albeit still a second shy of Friday’s target. Zarco, Aleix Espargaro and Fabio Quartararo now best of the rest.
Marc Marquez suffered a moment on the RC213V running fifth at the halfway stage. Suzuki’s Joan Mir and Viñales narrowly behind in the session’s standings as Miller, Takaaki Nakagami and the younger Espargaro completed the top ten. The LCR man the first to have improved on his Friday effort to 17th overall before a 2’03.286 hit the top in FP3 and became the gateway to Q2 contention.
Aprilia continued to command attention as Espargaro and Vinales sat second and third respectably as the session heated up. Mir sliding into the lead with his ninth lap of the day before the leading quartet swap positions in quick succession. The Suzuki setting the pace with the first 2’02 of the day to take fourth in the combined times.
The Repsol rider joined his brother with 15 minutes to go, the Espargaros sitting second and third, and in chronological order, as Jorge Martin crashed the Pramac Ducati out at turn 16. Bastianini the next to strike with a 2’02.741 to claim second overall as the second Suzuki of Alex Rins joined the fight just three-tenths behind.
Qatar’s victor continued to stake his claim on proceedings as he advanced the pace with the fastest lap of the weekend on his 10th attempt, a 2’02.420 now the target as Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini impressed to fifth with a 2’03.003. Yamaha’s Quartarao holding second from Mir and Marquez before Miller arrived to steal the slot. Zarco’s Friday effort still runner up overall as the only rider in the top eight yet to improve.
Mir crashed out at turn 11 with six minutes to go. Traffic building up on track in the hunt for a late-session tow with Pol Espargaro, Vinales and Bagnaia so far adrift of Q2 promotion. Darryn Binder the next to fall at the opening corner.
Quartararo and Marquez set the screens alight with one minute to go. The Honda bettering the Yamaha as he utilised the slipstream across the line with the pair sitting second and third in the closing seconds ahead of the final push.
Bagnaia struck for fifth as Zarco crashed out at turn two, Marini in the danger zone as Rins dropped out, with one last shot to advance. Quartararo topped the times with a 2’02.361 on his final lap as Pol demoted his elder brother out of contention in the dying seconds on his way to seventh. Marini refining his pace with his final effort to consolidate his promotion ahead of a gaggle of big hitters.
Both Aprilia’s, Rins and Morbidelli joining Martin, Andrea Dovizioso and all four KTM’s in the Q1 fight after a late crash for Brad Binder impeded the final push.