That all-time lap record from Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) in FP1 at the Bitci Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich is still the time to beat after FP3, but the pack have closed the Frenchman down. Zarco’s 1:22.827 is now just 0.047s better than Francesco Bagnaia’s (Ducati Lenovo Team) effort on Saturday morning, as World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) claims P3, 0.141s off.
A frantic FP3
In the early stages of FP3, plenty of riders were able to improve their Friday morning times. Quartararo, Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Bagnaia had penetrated the top five inside 10 minutes, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) moving into the top 10. However, Zarco’s advantage still stood at 0.7s.
With 16 minutes to go, Quartararo was chipping away and set a 1:22.975 to get within two tenths of Zarco’s pace. Lots of soft Michelin rubber was then slotted in and we saw heaps of changes on the timing screens, with all the riders bar Zarco now faster than they were in FP1. Bagnaia then got to within a tenth of the top time with under two minutes remaining, as teammate Jack Miller propelled himself into the automatic Q2 places.
Fellow Ducati rider Martin found himself just outside the top 10 and needed a personal best lap time on the final lap to try and get straight into the pole position fight. Orange sector times were lit by the Spanish rookie, but Martin tucked the front at Turn 10 to end his hopes of a top 10 finish. The latest MotoGP™ winner finds himself P13 on the combined times.
The top 10
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) set a 1:23.132 to claim P4 after three Free Practice sessions at the Red Bull Ring, the eight-time World Champion is a tenth and a half shy of third place Quartararo. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completes the top five and is again safely into Q2, as is Miller and reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) is the second fastest HRC rider so far in Austria, the Japanese rider sits P8 ahead of Binder and 10th place Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) – the latter squeezing into Q2 by just 0.001s.
Make sure you’re glued to your TV screens at 14:10 local time (GMT+2) for MotoGP™ qualifying at the Red Bull Ring, can anyone beat Zarco to pole position?
1. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) – 1:22.827
2. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.047
3. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.141
4. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.305
5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) + 0.311
6. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.418
7. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.493
8. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.535
9. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.626
10. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.654