Dovizioso, Crutchlow, Zarco split by 0.030 in FP3

Italian went quickest late on to lead the two Independent Team riders into qualifying, Marquez sits P4

A brilliant late lap from Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) ensures he remains quickest at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. The Italian set a 1:45.107 to oust LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow from top spot by 0.027 in FP3, with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) just 0.003 back from the British rider as the top three are split by just 0.030 heading into qualifying.

Magnificent weather conditions at the Twin Ring Motegi meant the premier class riders could get a full 45 minutes of valuable track time under their belts, with an automatic Q2 place up for grabs. The going was steady in the opening exchanges with just one significant improver jumping up the times: Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) then getting himself into the top then with just over 15 minutes to go – both riders sat outside the top ten heading into FP3.

Then came the classic FP3 time attack but after plenty of quick times being put in, the top four at the end of the session was as you were after Friday: Dovi heading Crutchlow and Zarco, with Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) not far behind in fourth – 0.182 back.

Fifth on the combined times and heading for Q2 is Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), ‘The Doctor’ leaving it very late to grab a top ten place in FP3. 0.006 behind the Italian is fellow veteran Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), P6 on the timesheets for the ‘Little Samurai’ on his last visit to Japan suggests the Spaniard is in good shape for qualifying. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) ends FP3 in seventh, 0.363 off Dovi’s benchmark, followed by the two Team Suzuki Ecstar machines of Rins and Andrea Iannone in P8 and P9 respectively. The two blue machines were less than half a second away from the leading Desmosedici, with Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) completing the top ten – 0.581 separating P1 to P10 heading into qualifying.

Jordi Torres (Reale Avintia Racing) crashed midway through the session at Turn 7, with fellow Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) crashing at Turn 12 as he pushed for a top ten place – riders ok.

It’s Dovi who remains in control at the front, but there are two Independent Team riders and a certain number 93 breathing down his neck. Qualifying looks set to be a cracker, tune in at 14:05 local time (GMT +9) for Q1 before Q2 fires up at 14:35 local time.

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