Gresini’s Enea Bastianini was determined to impress as MotoGP took to the Lusail International Circuit for Saturday’s FP3.
The Italian claimed the session standings with a 1’53.790 in the closing second after having multiple leading laps denied due to track limits on his 2021 Ducati Desmosedici. HRC’s Pol Espargaro and Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia completed the top three while the late drama saw Fabio Quartararo dumped out of automatic qualification for the Q2 push of pole and sitting 11th in the combined times.
Alex Rins was straight to the front as MotoGP free practice fired out of pit lane, Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, Pramac’s Jorge Martin and VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi bettering before the Suzuki hit back in third with Joan Mir up to fifth. The times shuffling as the pace picked up with Ducati then Suzuki hitting the front as Rins and Mir took charge once again, the only riders so far under the 1’55 barrier.
Five manufactures in the top ten after four laps around Lusail saw Yamaha sitting a disappointing 12th and 13th as Quartararo led Monster Energy teammate Franky Morbidelli. The World Champion rising to fifth on as many laps to sit behind the Espargaro brothers with Brad Binder narrowly behind on the KTM.
A strong early performance from Bastianini found the Gresini rider seventh and leading Ducati after ten minutes on track, Marc Marquez trailing the Italian with Miguel Oliveira and Johann Zarco rounding out the top ten.
Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini was the only rider to have improved on Friday’s efforts with a third of FP3 dispatched, albeit from the back of the overall standings, in 23rd, and 17th in the session.
Zarco was on the move at the mid stage, sitting fourth, two-tenths shy of the Suzuki’s and a mere 0.001s short of Espargaro’s Aprilia. Morbidelli crashing out at turn six with 23 minutes left on the clock.
Raul Fernandez remained top rookie as the KTM Tech3 continued to impress on his premier class debut, the Spaniard running 18th in the session just 0.888s off the leading Saturday pace with his Australian teammate Remy Gardner just over a tenth, and two places behind.
Quartararo took charge with a 1’54.794 on his ninth lap of FP3 as conditions kept times well over a second above Friday’s finest. Binder splitting the Suzuki’s for third next time around. Maverick Viñales was the next to shine as the Aprilia rider advanced to claim third before Ducati struck twice in quick succession. Zarco then Bastianini took over at the top with a 1’54.641, the Frenchman’s second attempt overpowering the Gresini again, with the number 23’s time later deleted.
Rins returned to front running pace as the session continued, circulating third with Mir sixth in the eclectic top ten, Pol Espargaro maintaining fastest Honda in eighth with 12 minutes left to play.
The final five minutes saw the pack roll out for a last flying effort, Mir the first to show improvement as he rose to fifth, Espargaro striking to second on the Repsol with Viñales following for third.
Bastianini bettered the pack with a blistering 1’53.382 to top the session and the overall standings before the time once again was denied due to track limits. Bagnaia taking over at the top of FP3 with a 1’53.979 but remaining just 0.008s behind his Friday best.
Quartararo was the next to climb to P1 before Bagnaia struck back, the Ducati man sitting in a precarious position on the edge of the promotion zone before his 15th lap boosted him to sixth overall.
Binder continued to improve on the KTM after a rollercoaster Friday, sitting third until Espargaro arrived on the Honda with a 1’53.803. Bastianini pushing hard for another stunning lap on wearing tyres to secure his place at the top of the session and fifth overall. The move demoting the reigning champion out of Q2's promotion zone at the final second much to the frustration of the Yamaha garage.