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Quartararo spearheads Yamaha 1-2 in red-flagged FP3

The Frenchman and Morbidelli turn the tables on Bagnaia on Saturday morning; Mir, Rossi & Marc Marquez are in Q1; Martin suffers huge crash

Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) made sure it's he who leads the MotoGP™ field into qualifying at the Grande Prémio 888 de Portugal, the Frenchman setting a 1:39.044 on Saturday morning to beat former teammate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) by 0.051s. Friday pacesetter Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) is also within a tenth of the top time, the Italian is 0.073s back in P3 as a dramatic FP3 unfolded in Portimao. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) suffered a frightening crash at Turn 7 in the closing stages and is heading to hospital for further medical checks, the Spaniard is conscious but has a head contusion and right hand, right ankle contusion. 

Despite a lot of riders slotting in Michelin’s medium-medium tyre compounds at the start of a vital FP3, we did see some changes on the combined standings. Home hero Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was up to P4, World Championship leader Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) then went P3, with Morbidelli and Aleix Esparagro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) penetrating the top 10. Safe to say, we were in for a fantastic top 10 shootout session in Portimao.

Zarco and Morbidelli then went P2 and P3, with Bagnaia’s three tenths Friday advantage now down to 0.142s with over 30 minutes left. Unfortunately for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) after his huge Turn 1 crash at the beginning of FP2, it looked like he was – understandably – feeling the effects. After one lap in FP3 the Japanese star pulled in, and after a handful of minutes in the box with Dr Charte, Nakagami was seen heading out the back of his garage. Pitlane reporter Simon Crafer reported that Nakagami was feeling more pain than expected in his right collarbone, and he was off to get some injections in order to try and continue. With the early improvers, Nakagami had slipped to P13 and out of the top 10.

Meanwhile, we had a new leader. Aleix Espargaro moved the goalposts and the time to beat now was a 1:39.690 with just under 20 minutes to go. Then, rookie Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) landed a 1:39.761 to launch into an impressive P2, a great lap from the Italian to sit less than a tenth from Espargaro. But now, we were into the final 15 minutes, and brand-new soft tyres were now being fitted into the machines. Game on for automatic Q2 qualification.

Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) threw the gauntlet down with 12 minutes left on the clock, the Australian slammed in a 1:39.345 to go three tenths clear of the chasing pack. The Hondas of Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) grabbed P5 and P6 as orange sector times lit up the timing screens, before Quartararo found three tenths in the last sector to go 0.301s faster than Miller. Morbidelli soon made it a Yamaha 1-2, with the yellow flags then coming out with six minutes to go after Martin's horrific crash. The yellow flags soon turned to red flags with four minutes 11 seconds left, Martin is conscious but had to be stretchered away from the gravel trap. We send our best wishes and hope it’s nothing too serious for the Doha GP podium finisher.

Pitlane opened at 10:48 local time for the final four minutes of FP3 – a fast and ferocious top 10 dogfight would follow. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) shot to P3, Bagnaia and Marini improved but Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) went wide at Turn 1 and ruined his first lap of two, with Alex Marquez highsiding just in front of his brother at Turn 3. Viñales was in danger but went P13 to P9, Bagnaia climbed to P3, as big names missed out on a top 10.

Zarco sits P4 behind the leading trio, with Rins claiming a very solid P5 for Suzuki. Miller didn’t improve in the final dash but cruises into the top 10 in P6, just ahead of rookie Marini. Seventh place for the Italian is a fantastic effort in Portimao, we’ll be seeing the 2020 Moto2™ runner-up in MotoGP™ Q2 for the first time later on. Aleix Espargaro, Oliveira and Viñales squeeze into the automatic Q2 places, with the late crash costing 11th placed Alex Marquez.

So, missing out are three premier class World Champions. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Marc Marquez ended FP3 in P12, P14 and P15 respectively, Pol Espargaro is P13 to make Q1 a mouth-watering line-up.

Don’t miss MotoGP™ qualifying at the Portuguese Grand Prix, get yourselves in front of your TVs at 14:10 for Q1!

Top 10 combined:
1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – 1:39.044
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.051
3. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.073
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.184
5. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.284
6. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.301
7. Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) + 0.556
8. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.646
9. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.653
10. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.698

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