Jack Miller led the way for Pramac Ducati in FP3 for the Portuguese Grand Prix at Portimao, the Aussie leading the field by over a tenth in a closely-fought session.
Miller was knocked out of Q2 contention as FP3 wore on, Takaaki Nakagami and Miguel Oliveira clawing themselves back into the top ten after rather anonymous finishes in Friday afternoon’s FP2 session.
The Pramac man came back fighting as the session entered its final breaths though, firing the fastest lap of the weekend-a 1:39.414-to move himself to the top of both the FP3 and combined standings.
Oliveira was keen to bag a strong result at his home event though, lowering Miller’s benchmark by a few hundredths, while Nakagami flew up to second by utilising the Tech 3 KTM rider’s tow.
Alex Rins staked his claim for the runners-up spot in the riders championship as he moved to the head of the timesheets with a 1:39.355, though was swiftly relegated by Oliveira.
Miller had one final ace up his sleeve though, firing in a 1:39.205 to go fastest by 0.125 on his final gambit, leading the ten riders that secured direct-to-Q2 berths.
Oliveira thus had to make do with second ahead of Rins and the late-improving Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso, while Nakagami completed the top five.
Johann Zarco’s Friday-leading time was enough to see him progress to Q2 in sixth overall despite not managing to breach the top ten in FP3, with Petronas SRT pilot Fabio Quartararo seventh.
Pol Espargaro ensured two KTM’s would make the top ten with the eighth best combined time, while Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales and Honda’s Stefan Bradl would complete the ten heading straight to the pole shootout on Saturday afternoon.
Rins’ chief rival for the runners-up spot in the riders standings Franco Morbidelli meanwhile failed to find enough time to drag himself into the top ten with his final efforts, the Italian’s ninth best time in FP3 not quite enough to move him into the top ten in combined times.
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was also a casualty of the late flurry of improvements towards the end of the test, while Brad Binder and newly-crowned MotoGP world champion Joan Mir also found themselves left out in the cold in 13th and 15th respectively.