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Lap record comes under pressure as Baldassarri leads

Lap record comes under pressure as Baldassarri leads

Times were again within spitting distance of the circuit record, Baldassarri heading FP3 from Lowes and Morbidelli.

A number of riders in the intermediate class headed into Free Practice 3 with a point to prove, none more so than Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40). As in Argentina, Rins hadn’t quite been able to match the pace of the leading riders on Friday and ended the opening day down in 13th place. Argentina also proved to Rins that a strong grid position is vital, as without one the front riders can easily escape at the front. With this knowledge in hand, the title contender headed out determined to make improvements.

Rins and the rest of the Moto2™ World Championship field knew that even matching the times from Friday would be difficult as Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) had led the way with a record breaking lap. Conditions were cooler than they had been in previous sessions, the Moto3™ and MotoGP™ classes producing their best times before Moto2™ went out. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) looked to be making the most of the weather and set his first 1’42 of the weekend. He was about to go even faster until he lost the front at Turn 6, able to get back on and ride his Kalex back to the pits.

Despite the fall, Lowes’ pace proved that conditions were prime for fast lap times and the Brit was back out on track as soon as he could, improving his time not too long after and continuing to lead the session. Lowes’ return to the top may have been impressive, but it was Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) who stole the show. The Italian rattled off a string of mid 1’42s and was able to consistently be within 0.2s of Nakagami’s record. All these laps were set on the hard rear tyre, boding well for Sunday’s race. Baldassarri’s 1’42.673 put him top of the session and demonstrated his times in testing were no fluke.

Lowes’ 1’42.738 would see the Brit conclude the session in second, yet again setting his fastest time after a crash. 0.065s separated Lowes and Baldassarri, both riders showing strong and consistent pace this weekend. Heading into Qualifying, Lowes has never started from better than sixth in Jerez.

After a complete bike rebuild and a subsequently difficult weekend in Austin, Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was back to challenging at the front of the field. Even though he had his bike rebuilt, the Italian spent the majority of the Austin weekend unable to shake the feeling that there was an issue with his Kalex, no such problems in Jerez.

Once more Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) was inside the top five, the German setting a 1’42.953 to end Free Practice 3 in fourth. Folger and Nakagami were the onyl riders inside the top five on combined times who were unable to set their best laps in Free Practice 3.

Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) was unable to drop into the 1’42s and subsequently ended the session in fifth with a best lap time of 1’43.065. All of the top five riders were within 0.392s of each other.

Danny Kent (Leopard Racing), Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) completed the top ten. There were again several big names missing from the top ten as a number of riders focused their attention on working with used tyres.

0.807s off the pace, Rins was unconcerned by the gap as he ended 18th. He and the team having spent the entire session working on used tyres. There’s no doubt he’ll be strong at the end of the race, but he needs to be careful to avoid the Argentina situation again.

Rins may have been content with his work, but Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) was visibly frustrated by his pace, or lack thereof. The Frenchman banged on his bars in anger during the session, ending Free Practice 3 down in 19th and 0.817s slower than the leader. Zarco had similar issues while testing here in Jerez during the pre-season, struggling for feeling with his Kalex.

Edgar Pons (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), who is back in action after missing two races due to illness, suffered a heavy fall in Turn 3. Both he and the bike tumbled through the gravel. Nakagami also suffered a fall, another victim of Jerez’s tricky Turn 1. Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) had his second fall of the weekend, the Italian coming off at the fast Turn 12 and able to walk away.

Qualifying kicks off at 15:05 Local Time for the Moto2™ World Championship in Jerez.

Results from the session can be viewed here.

Moto2, 2016, GRAN PREMIO RED BULL DE ESPAÑA, FP3, Franco Morbidelli, Lorenzo Baldassarri, Sam Lowes, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, Federal Oil Gresini Moto2, Forward Team

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