Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) set the fastest time of the weekend in FP3 to head Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) into qualifying at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. It was a difficult Saturday morning for Movistar Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales though, as both missed out on an automatic Q2 place – ‘The Doctor’ crashing at Turn 4.
The session started with a hint of sunshine breaking through the clouds, but the hopes of getting a drier session underway were dashed when the heavens opened almost immediately after FP3 began. The pace was slow to start with as none of the riders looked like they could improve their Friday times, until Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) became the first rider to improve his time from Friday as he penetrated the top ten with just under 25 minutes remaining. This pushed Alex Rins (Team Ecstar Suzuki) out and with the rain now letting off, the scene was set for a busy end to the session.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso then improved his time to go top in the session, then went slightly quicker again to get him within 0.033 of Marquez’ fastest combined practice time. But it was Petrucci who would end the morning at the summit – a 1:39.712 the fastest lap of the weekend to head Marquez and Dovizioso – the 2018 World Champion failing to improve his time in FP3.
The same goes for fourth fastest overall Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing). The Australian’s FP1 time was enough to keep him up the sharp end, with the Ducati rider suffering his second crash of the weekend on Saturday morning. Fifth was Zarco after improving by over a second, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) continuing his strong final race weekend to improve his time in FP3, the ‘Little Samurai’ sits P6 ahead of qualifying, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro having another great session to finish just over half a second from P1.
Despite a late crash, Rins makes it straight into Q2 with a P8 finish on the combined times, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) grabbing a late spot in P9 – the Spaniard recovering well from a crash at Turn 14. The last automatic Q2 spot went to wildcard rider Michele Pirro (Ducati Team), the Italian also crashing in the session – rider ok.
Aleix Espargaro’s late lap meant Viñales was pushed out the top ten in the dying seconds, with Rossi unable to recover from an early highside to grab himself a top ten place – P11 and P14 respectively for the pairing.
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed during the session too – rider ok as he’ll contest in Q1, with Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing) having to sit out the rest of the weekend after two crashes on Friday left him feeling unwell, later being declared unfit after a trip to hospital.
An immense qualifying awaits as big-name riders aim to get themselves into Q2. What will the weather bring? Find out at 14:10 for what promises to be a spectacular qualifying in Valencia.