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Times plummeted as conditions improved for MotoGP™ FP3, Marc Marquez leading with Lorenzo and Iannone making massive improvements behind him
Rain fortunately did not fall in the Free Practice 3 session, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) taking immediate advantage. The five-time World Champion had a torrid time on Friday and entered the session floundering outside the top ten and facing a potential visit to Q1. New tyres were fitted immediately for Lorenzo, opting for the hard front and medium rear combination, his first flying lap putting him fourth.
Lorenzo was not the only one to fly at the start of the session, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) dropping to a 1’40.899 on just his third lap of the session. Times continued to fall at the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina with track conditions clearly better than the opening day. Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) also saw rapid improvement early in the session, settling in inside the top three during the early stages of the session
Times would fall even further as FP3 progressed, the 45-minute session coming to a thrilling end with Marquez setting a 1’40.368 to lead. The time didn’t come easy, Marquez frequently having to subdue his bucking RC213V out of the final corner, fighting just to stay upright. With just over seven minutes to go, Marquez suffered a fall at Turn 1 and immediately sprinted back to the box. Despite having to abort several laps due to the issue and his crash, Marquez topped the session by only 0.024s.
Perhaps the biggest improvements came from Lorenzo who was able to go over two and a half seconds quicker than on Friday. Interestingly, he also chose to fit winglets to his M1 once again. Towards the end of the session Lorenzo produced three laps to try and de-throne Marquez, the final sector proving to be the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider’s undoing on each lap. The World Champion’s 1’40.392 lap cementing him in second.
Alongside Lorenzo, Andrea Iannone was certainly one of the biggest improvers in Free Practice 3, having ended Friday down in 15th. The Italian was able to produce a 1’40.741 to finish in third and 0.373s behind Marquez’s time. Yamaha and Ducati have both made major steps forward as the circuit’s condition has improved, Honda no longer having it their own way.
Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) was one of the biggest surprises of the session. Having battled illness all weekend, the Spaniard summoned all of his strength to push his GP14.2 to the limit in Free Practice 3. His efforts were rewarded with the fourth fastest time of the weekend so far, ending FP3 as the top Independent Team rider.
Making it four different manufacturers in the top five, Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) continued to show well. The Suzuki GSX-RR also demonstrated clear improvement in top end speed, Viñales hitting 323.2 km/h during the session, the second highest top speed of the top five in the session.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top ten and earned themselves a ticket directly into Q2 and a guaranteed top 12 grid slot.
This means the likes of Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will have to test their abilities in Q1. They will have the Free Practice 4 session to attempt to refine their qualifying setting.
Michele Pirro (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) was also on track for the first time, having missed the opening day due to travel issues. He is replacing Danilo Petrucci in Argentina and Austin and concluded the FP3 session in 15th.
Jack Miller suffered an early fall at Turn 1, losing the front. He was immediately up and back into the pits.
Full times from the MotoGP™ session can be viewed here.
MotoGP™ Qualifying commences at 14:10 Local Time at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit with FP4 begining just before at 13:30 Local Time.
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