Bagnaia sets blistering new lap record in dramatic FP3

The Italian was one of numerous crashers on Saturday morning as title contenders miss out on an automatic Q2 place

Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) set a brand-new outright Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli lap record to head the MotoGP™ field into qualifying at the Gran Premio TISSOT dell'Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini. The Italian’s 1:31.127 sees him sit 0.058 ahead of second fastest Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) sitting P3 as the leading trio all dip under the former lap record, set by Viñales last weekend.

FP3 began with one of the riders who needed to find time to grab a top 10 position hitting the deck at Turn 1. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) crashed unhurt with less than five minutes on the clock to get his Saturday off to a disappointing start, with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) then crashing at Turn 8 – were the riders getting caught out in the cooler temperatures? Unfortunately, we’d see quite a few more crashes towards the end of the session, with Michelin reporting the track temperature was 29 degrees at the start of the session as riders started to bed themselves into a vital 45 minutes of track time.

Bagnaia improved his overall time in the early stages of FP3 to rise into the top 10, bumping Ducati rival Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) out for the time being. Bagnaia led the session with a 1:32.049 before Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) beat the Italian’s time by 0.002 seconds, but there were going to be plenty of shake-ups coming.

And it was Pol Espargaro who was out first on a soft rear tyre. With 18 minutes to go, the KTM star was the first man to dip below the 1:32 bracket in FP3 to extend his advantage in the session. With 13 minutes left, the showdown started. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) shot to the top of the session before Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) swiftly demoted the Italian to second. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) then went sixth overall with Zarco also going quicker – it was all bubbling up nicely for a proper ding-dong top 10 battle.

Bagnaia, riding the crest of a Riviera di Rimini wave, then absolutely smashed Viñales’ lap record by over two tenths. The Italian slammed in a 1:31.127 to sit over half a second clear of the field, the goalposts well and truly moved from the 2018 Moto2™ World Champion. San Marino GP winner Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) then launched himself to P2, but he was 0.375 shy of his VR46 companion as there were just six minutes left for the riders to get themselves into the top 10.

In the final five minutes, Championship leader Dovizioso was P10, 0.010 ahead of Oliveira in 11th. Pol Espargaro crashed at Turn 6 while sitting P7, could that be costly? Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) moved into the top 10 with his best lap of the weekend, Zarco then also went quicker to shift Dovizioso out of the top 10. Oliveira then crashed heavily at Turn 15 as he went for a check-up in the medical centre, later being declared fit, before Bagnaia was down at Turn 6 as the riders pushed for a lap time. And, crucially, the yellow flags were being waved.

However, thankfully, the track was clear for the final minute – and there was some movement. Mir improved his time but stayed P9 as the Spaniard clung onto a top 10 by the skin of his teeth, Viñales moved into P2 having struggled to find his race pace rhythm – nothing wrong with the Yamaha man’s one-lap speed though. Morbidelli went quicker but stayed P3 as teammate Quartararo propelled himself into P2, before Viñales went back to P2 as the Yamaha riders battled it out to be Bagnaia’s closest challenger. Mir looked safe but made sure of it on his final flying lap to claim P5, Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) was a late improver to displace Miller from the top 10.

All the swapping and changing sees Bagnaia emerge from Free Practice as the man to beat. A new lap record for the San Marino GP second place finisher was enough for him to lead a trio of Yamahas – Viñales, Quartararo and Morbidelli sitting P2, P3 and P4 respectively, with Mir completing the top five. Friday pacesetter Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) heads straight into Q2 thanks to his FP2 time in sixth, the same goes for Nakagami who claims P7. Rossi’s fastest time in the closing stages was enough to hand The Doctor P8 overall, Pol Espargaro will be relieved his crash didn’t cost him a top 10. Petrucci earns the last automatic Q2 spot in P10, 0.002 behind Espargaro.

Q1 hosts some big hitters. Miller, Zarco, Dovizioso are three Ducatis who will be expecting to go through into Q2, but so will the likes of Oliveira and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), the latter has struggled all weekend though. Basically, don’t miss qualifying at 14:10 local time (GMT+2)!

Top 10:
1. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) – 1:31.127
2. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.058
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.232
4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.302
5. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.499
6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.501
7. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.503
8. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.553
9. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.572
10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) + 0.574

Click here for the full results!

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