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Rain or shine, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) has been untouchable at the top of the timesheets so far at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the Spaniard finishing at the summit of the overall standings and the wet FP3 session to lead Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) by 0.180 and Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller by 0.453 on Saturday morning. Meanwhile, some big hitters will have to contest Q1 this afternoon…
As predicted, wet conditions were in store for the premier class riders for FP3 which meant one thing: no one would be improving their times from Friday and the automatic Q2 places were set.
But it was an important session nonetheless with qualifying and the race looking likely to be damp, so getting a good feel in the tricky conditions – especially for the rookies – was vital. Marquez was the early leader before Viñales got into a good rhythm in the middle of the session to go top. However, Miller then popped in a good handful of laps to move the goalposts further but with the track not really getting any wetter, the times were coming down all the time. Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso took a turn at holding the number one spot, but Marquez, Viñales and Miller would all go quicker in the latter stages of the session as Dovi slipped to ninth by the end.
In the end, Viñales led Marquez and Miller with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) just under a second back in fourth – the man second in the Championship will be in Q1 after finishing P16 on the combined times. Fifth was French fans favourite Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as five manufacturers sat in the top five positions in the wet. A good sign for qualifying later on today.
So who will be the big hitters that need to master Q1 in order to have a chance to fight for pole position? Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow, Pramac Racing’s Francesco Bagnaia, compatriot Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and the two Team Ecstar Suzuki’s of Joan Mir – a crasher in FP3 – and the aforementioned Rins means there will be some very disappointed riders not getting into Q2 – in addition to the likes of Zarco and Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveria, both of whom looking solid in the wet.
And with qualifying looking set to be contested in wet conditions, you really don’t want to miss the battle for pole position! Q1 begins at 14:10 local time (GMT+2) with Q2 getting underway at 14:35.
MotoGP™ FP3 in France: engines on for Saturday
Top 10 combined:
1. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) 1:31.428
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.190
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.285
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.288
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.308
6. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) + 0.471
7. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.495
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) +0.704
9. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +0.775
10. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +0.810
Click here for the full results!