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6 days ago
By motogp.com

Catch me if you can: Miller dominates COTA FP3

The Australian is 0.6s clear of the chasing pack heading into qualifying; Quartararo and Bagnaia into Q2

Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was a man possessed in MotoGP™ FP3 at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas and will head into qualifying as the man to beat, with the Australian sitting 0.679s clear of second place Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). Miller’s 2:02.923 was untouchable on Saturday morning, only five riders were able to get within a second his pace, including third place Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar).

Miller dominant, Quartararo and Bagnaia into Q2

Lots of work was being done towards the race in the first half of FP3, with all the riders thankful the wet weather had steered clear. Nakagami was the first rider to make a significant change on the timesheets, the Japanese star went P1 overall with 17 minutes left after setting the first sub-2:04 lap time of the Grand Prix.

Miller’s first flying lap on soft rubber then saw him stick his GP21 on top, the benchmark was now 2:03.549 with 12 minutes of FP3 to go. World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) soon climbed his way up to P3, which demoted Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) down another place to P4, with Rins improving to P5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), on an out-lap, crashed unhurt at Turn 12 to briefly bring out the yellow flags, before a busy final five minutes played out.

With a couple of minutes to go, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was sitting P11 and needed to find time. And finding time was exactly what teammate Miller was doing. The Aussie was 0.6s quicker than his own lap halfway round and crossing the line, Miller obliterated the quickest time to go eight tenths clear of anyone. Pecco did manage to improve his lap, a crucial effort from the Italian, with Nakagami going second late on to close Miller’s advantage to 0.6s.

The remaining automatic Q2 protagonists

Behind Miller, Nakagami and Rins is Friday pacesetter Marc Marquez, the eight-time World Champion is 0.8s down on Miller heading into qualifying later. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), fresh from arm pump surgery, has had a solid weekend and is fifth after Free Practice 3, the Frenchman slightly ahead of sixth place Quartararo.

Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) makes it three Hondas in the top 10, the number 44 is a second away from Miller in 7th, with 8th place Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) claiming a top 10 spot with his final flying lap. Bagnaia was made to sweat, but the title chaser is safely into the pole position shootout, as is 10th place Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing).

Qualifying awaits…

The likes of reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Misano third place finisher Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) will all be hoping to make it through Q1, and it begins at 14:10 local time (GMT-5).

Top 10 combined:
1. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 2:02.923
2. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.679
3. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.804
4. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.881
5. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.900
6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.944
7. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 1.097
8. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 1.117
9. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 1.202
10. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 1.274

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