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MotoGP Qatar II: Sandstorm puts paid to useful work in third session

Fabio Quartararo concluded a ‘nothing’ of a session at the top of the MotoGP times after conditions impacted the afternoon free practice.

After a day of increasing winds and sandstorms, a challenging Losail Circuit greeted the MotoGP class as FP3 attempted to get up to speed with almost half the field waiting in the pits as they analysed the situation.

The opening 10 minutes saw riders faced with fog-like conditions as the dust circulated in the air and wet-look plumes behind the bikes as they streamed down the start-finish straight. Johann Zarco explaining there was little point in heading out as the Frenchman chose to wait for the evening’s FP4.


Fabio Quartararo was the fastest of the riders attempting to navigate their way through the conditions, 1’56.723 the time to beat but with six-seconds separating the 15 riders on track it was a disparate opening session. Iker Lecuona and Enea Bastianini sat best of the rest ahead of the Suzuki’s of Alex Rins and Joan Mir before Miguel Oliveira promoted the KTM to fourth at the halfway stage.

Mir advanced to third moments later as he looked to improve the feeling with his GSX-RR - a seemingly difficult ask under the circumstances - however, the world champ looked unperturbed as he hit the top with his ninth lap, now almost three-tenths ahead of the Yamaha, towing his team-mate to third in the process.

The closing 10 minutes saw Maverick Viñales and Danilo Petrucci eventually join the session, with Zarco, Jack Miller, Luca Marini and Jorge Martin choosing to sit out entirely. The Yamaha rider was quickly up to speed, finding eight with his third lap before improving again to sit fifth with six minutes to go.

A late flourish allowed Alex Marquez to advance the times, first to fifth and then to second before the second Suzuki took the lead, with a quartet of Yamaha squabbling for positions behind. Viñales claimed third from an ever-improving Bastianini as Marquez headed Franky Morbidelli and Quartararo before the times shuffled again in the dying seconds.

Conditions calming slightly as the clock counted down, the timing screens were ablaze in red. The Frenchman securing the session on his M1 as the last rider to cross the line, from Rins and Mir with Petrucci impressing to fourth on his final lap. Viñales headed Morbidelli and Bastianini as Marquez held off Valentino Rossi and Pol Espargaro to conclude the top-10. Oliveira sat 11th from teammate Brad Binder with Tech3 KTM Lecuona following for 13th. Pecco Bagnaia, Lorenzo Savadori, Stefan Bradl, Aleix Espargaro and Takaaki Nakagami concluded the FP3 runners.

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