Joan Mir led the way in FP3 for the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, the Spaniard heading Fabio Quartararo by 0.151.
The Suzuki man is riding high following his debut podium in last weekend’s Austrian GP, but is keen to stand a step higher on the podium this time around-proving his pedigree by setting a pair of laps in the closing moments of third practice good enough for the top spot.
Yamaha looked to be in control for the bulk of the session, Maverick Vinales banging in the fastest lap of the weekend of 1:23.617 to elevate himself to the head of the combined standings as the session reached its mid-point.
Quartararo then relegated his stable-mate to second shortly after by just 0.010, before the Frenchman was then knocked back himself by the rapid Mir.
Quartararo was ultimately unable to improve any further but remained second, while Takaaki Nakagami once again impressed on his ’19 spec LCR Honda to close out the session third and secure his passage directly into Q2.
Andrea Dovizioso ended the session fourth as the fastest Ducati, while Vinales slipped back to fifth by the time the chequered flag came out on the session.
Pol Espargaro failed to improve on his leading FP2 time from Friday afternoon, although this was still good enough to see him bag a Q2 spot with the sixth overall fastest time.
Miguel Oliveira was next up in seventh on his Tech 3-run KTM, while Franco Morbidelli suck into the top ten at the death to deny Brad Binder a top ten result.
Alex Rins ensured both GSX-RR Suzuki’s occupied guaranteed Q2 berths with ninth overall, while Jack Miller clung onto tenth despite crashing out while trying to improve in the final minutes.
The Pramac racer crashed in a similar fashion to Rins’ Austrian GP ending incident at Turn 6 last week, Miller tucking the front early on entry-thus ending his FP3 in the gravel.
Binder missed out on making it directly to Q2 by an agonising 0.003, the South African therefore forced to battle the likes of Johann Zarco-who was 12th despite having missed all Friday running and competing the rest of the weekend with a broken right wrist-and Danilo Petrucci for the final pair of tickets to the pole shootout.
Valentino Rossi was another to struggle in the min-qualifying session that traditionally brings Q3 to a close, the Italian managing only 15th overall with his best effort-0.155 down on Q2 gatekeeper Miller’s time.
The Aprilia and Honda factory squads continued to struggle in the Styrian hills meanwhile, Bradley Smith the best of the RS-GP’s in 17th, the Brit heading team-mate Aleix Espargaro by over two-tenths.
Alex Marquez meanwhile managed to get the best of temporary team-mate Stefan Bradl despite a high-speed crash at Turn 9 early on, albeit in a lowly 20th and 0.668 away from reaching Q2.