Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia topped Saturday’s FP3 with a 1’22.874, just 0.047s adrift of Johann Zarco’s record Spielberg MotoGP time.
Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo sat second in the morning practice ahead of his fellow countryman, with the Pramac rider using the session to work on his Desmosedici’s impressive and consistent rhythm. Jorge Martin failing to proceed after a late-session crash.
Pol Espargaro led the way as FP3 fired up on Saturday morning, the Ducati’s of Bagnaia and Zarco taking over at the top with their third laps as Quartararo joined the fight in fourth. Marc Marquez was the next to strike, bettering the Frenchman as the times edged closer to Friday’s - albeit still almost a second off Zarco’s record-breaking pace - before the Yamaha improved to sit second overall.
A turn one crash left Enea Bastianini on the sidelines after just 10-minutes on track, as Zarco mimicked his Friday prowess with another session-topping time on his Pramac machine, 1’23.484 his current best. Teammate Martin echoed the confidence of last weekend by setting the third best time of the session so far, his 1’23.6 worthy of fourth in the combined standings thanks to Joan Mir’s Friday effort.
Bagnaia continued the run of Ducati power in fourth as Brad Binder split the Repsol Hondas from sixth position while Alex Rins, Jack Miller and Luca Marini concluded the top-10 at the halfway stage.
Mir was on the move as the second half unfolded, the Suzuki rider securing second overall with a 1’23.560, as he bettered his previous efforts before Quartararo ventured out on a new soft rear. 1’23.203 the initial reward for the Yamaha man, but there was more in the tank, however, as he continued to push, 1’22.975 the ultimate effort as he sat 0.14s off his countryman’s benchmark with 15-minutes remaining.
Aleix Espargaro was on a charge as the clock reached the 10-minute-mark, 1’23.222 sitting him comfortably in the combined top-three with Bagnaia chasing hard, finding third in the session and fourth overall, just 0.022s back.
The final Ducati of Miller continued to struggle and looked to be heading for Q1 from 13th in the standings as the Australian circulated just over a second down on the fastest times, with Valentino Rossi for company, on a 1’23.901.
The younger Espargaro was hunting for improvements as the final five minutes began, the second Repsol sitting painfully on the edge of the promotion zone as Miller advanced to ninth.
Rins was the rider to displace his fellow Spaniard as the Suzuki swept into sixth, Rossi narrowly missing out on the top-10 as Miller pushed his way into fifth. Takaaki Nakagami and Binder joined the fight in seventh and eight as Bagnaia took charge with a 1’22,874, narrowly behind Zarco’s record.
The final flurry saw Rins denied Q2 contention by 0.001s as disaster struck last week’s pole-man. Martin sliding out at turn 10 and failing to secure his promotion as the yellow flags impending any final progress for Miguel Oliveira in the process.
Bagnaia took the session from Quartararo and Zarco, with the Pramac man retaining control in the overall times. Marquez led Aprilia’s Espargaro and Miller with Mir, Nakagami, Binder and his Repsol teammate securing automatic entry into this afternoon’s pole shootout.