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SKY Racing Team VR46's Celestino Vietti is still the man to beat in the Moto3™ class after the Italian's lap from FP1 at the BMW M Grand Prix of Styria was enough to cling on to top spot after a flurry of laps were cancelled late on in FP3. Rivacold Snipers Team's Tony Arbolino went two tenths quicker than his compatriot with his final lap of the session and in doing so seemingly had set a brand-new outright lap record around the Red Bull Ring only for it to be cancelled for a yellow flag infringement.
With less than 60 seconds remaining, Estrella Galicia 0,0's Ryusei Yamanaka highsided on the exit of Turn 1 and consequently brought out the yellow flags. Those waved yellows through the opening corner had a detrimental effect on two riders most noticeably: Arbolino and Leopard Racing's Jaume Masia.
The Italian had a piece of lightweight class history taken away from him, although Arbolino still holds the outright lap record from Free Practice in 2019, and Masia, who had initially jumped up to fourth, had his lap taken away and, as a result, his place in Q2 taken away as he dropped outside of the top 14.
All of that means Vietti's lap set on Friday morning is still the time to beat heading into qualifying, but his advantage has been cut down with Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) now his closest rival, only 0.058 seconds adrift in second. Red Bull KTM Ajo's Raul Fernandez sneaked inside the top three, with Honda Team Asia's Ai Ogura and World Championship leader Albert Arenas (Valresa Aspar Team) completing a top five seperated by just 0.182 of a second.
Petronas Sprinta Racing's John McPhee ended up sixth on the combined Free Practice timesheets after impressively doing his best lap on his own and without a tow. Kömmerling Gresini Moto3's Gabriel Rodrigo sits seventh, ahead of Arbolino who dropped back to eighth after his fastest lap was cancelled. Completing the top ten is fellow Rivacold Snipers Team rider Filip Salac in ninth and SIC58 Squadra Corse's Tatsuki Suzuki, who joined Vietti as the only man inside the top ten who failed to improve in FP3.
The final automatic Q2 places went to Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Stefano Nepa (Valresa Aspar Team), Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), with the last weekend's podium finisher Masia sitting in the unlucky 15th place. Moto3™ qualifying gets underway at 12:35 local time (GMT+2) with a new fastest-ever lightweight class lap around the Red Bull Ring surely on the menu.
Top 10 combined:
1. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) – 1:35.997
2. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) + 0.058
3. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.133
4. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) + 0.176
5. Albert Arenas (Valresa Aspar Team) + 0.182
6. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.203
7. Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.241
8. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 0.273
9. Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 0.380
10. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.401