Fabio Quartararo made it three from three Catalan Grand Prix practice session for Petronas SRT by posting the fastest time in FP3, while Andrea Dovizioso failed to make Q2 automatically.
Quartararo led the way early on in the session, the field warming themselves up for the traditional time attack that would take place in the closing minutes to decide who would progress directly to Q2 and who would have to navigate Q1.
The Frenchman slipped back as several riders decided to embark on fast efforts earlier than usual, with Maverick Vinales’ factory Yamaha shooting to the head of the times just under two-thirds of the way through the 45 minute test.
Vinales’ impressive benchmark of 1:39.462 was over half-a-second up on Franco Morbidelli’s Friday leading time, although as the session inched towards its conclusion the entire field ventured out in order to demote the Spaniard.
Despite many improvements coming across the board, Vinales held firm at the head of the timing pylon, though with just seconds to go Quartararo banged in a 1:39.418 to squeak ahead of Vinales by less than half-a-tenth.
With no over improvers this bagged Quartararo the top spot for the session with Vinales just behind, while an impressive Miguel Oliveira slotted his Tech 3 KTM into third overall-just 0.089 down on the leading Yamaha.
The equally unexpected Danilo Petrucci put his tough Friday behind him to fire into fourth in the dying moments of the session-pushing Emilia Romagna GP challenger Francesco Bagnaia out at the death-while Johann Zarco solidified his place in the top ten with the fifth quickest effort.
Pol Espargaro was sixth on his factory KTM ahead of FP2 leader Morbidelli, while Valentino Rossi ensured all four Yamaha’s would progress straight to Q2 with eighth spot.
Brad Binder was ninth quickest on the second factory KTM machine, while Joan Mir would just cling onto a direct pole shootout berth ahead of Bagnaia’s Pramac Ducati by just 0.035.
Joining Bagnaia in Q1 would be the other two Desmosedici GP20’s of Jack Miller and Dovizioso in 12th and 13th respectively, while Rins again struggled to put in a fast lap in 14th on the second Suzuki.
Honda suffered a torrid session meanwhile, Takaaki Nakagami its highest representative in 15th just clear of LCR team-mate Cal Crutchlow.
Both lost out on chances to improve at the end after crashing their RC213-V’s within moments of each other, Nakagami going down at Turn 2 while Crutchlow lost the front at Turn 5 soon after.
Aprilia were unable to make use of their encouraging Friday speed with 17th and 18th for Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith, while the official Honda squad could muster just 19th and 22nd for Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl.
Iker Lecuona’s character-building weekend continued in third practice, the Tech 3 racer crashing for the third time in as many sessions-this time at Turn 2 for the second occasion-on his way to 21st overall, over a second down on the Q2 cut-off.