Francesco Bagnaia headed Fabio Quartararo in FP3 for the San Marino Grand Prix as Marc Marquez will have to contest Q1 due to late crash.
The factory Ducati rider got straight down to business when the session finally got underway 20 minutes behind schedule due to a spate of red flags in the preceding Moto3 practice outing, the Italian firing in the fastest lap of the weekend so far with a 1:32.489s.
FP1 leader Maverick Vinales meanwhile wanted to prove his early Friday performance was no fluke as he went top with a 1:32.200s, the Aprilia man really starting to get to grips with the RS-GP.
The times continued to tumble on the bone dry circuit, with Quartararo then taking his turn at the peak of the timesheets by posting the first sub-1:32 lap of the weekend so far, his 1:31.975s leaving him marginally clear of Suzuki’s Joan Mir and Bagnaia.
The Aragon GP victor though had one final ace up his sleeve as the seconds counted down on the session, Bagnaia banging in a 1:31.936s effort to catapult himself once again back to the head of the times-a position he would hold until the end due a lack of sufficient improvement from the rest of the front runners.
Quartararo would hang onto second just 0.039s adrift, with Jack Miller finding time late on to end up third ahead of Mir.
Aprilia once again raised eyebrows as both its riders will head directly into the pole shootout on Saturday afternoon, Vinales heading team-mate Aleix Espargaro as the duo managed fifth and sixth overall ahead of the other GSX-RR of Alex Rins, who managed to just lift himself out of the Q1 zone at the death.
Disappointment was soon to follow for Espargaro though as he lost his best gambit due to a yellow flag infringement, dropping him to 16th.
Johann Zarco also managed to get himself within the top ten late on for Pramac Ducati ahead of Pol Espargaro’s factory Honda, with the other Pramac machine of Jorge Martin bagging ninth overall.
Ducati test rider Michele Pirro narrowly missed out on a chance to advance straight away by just 0.005s, though this would become tenth following Aleix’s time deletion-meaning all three factory Desmosedici’s are guaranteed to take part in Q2.
Takaaki Nakagami meanwhile missed out down in 11th after losing a lap enough to grant him a Q2 place due to having set the time under yellow flag conditions.
Marc Marquez is another who will need to manoeuvre his way through the opening segment of qualifying later to try and salvage one of the final two spots in the shootout after crashing on his final crucial lap in FP3, the German GP winner losing the front of his RC213-V at the slow Turn 14 while on a lap seemingly enough to get him in the top ten.
His minor spill ultimately left him 13th overall ahead of new factory Yamaha racer Franco Morbidelli, while KTM once again struggled in practice with Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona its highest contender in a lowly 17th.
Valentino Rossi suffered an early crash of his own at the high-speed Turn 13 which he fortunately walked away from, though he could do no better than 18th on the timesheets, just 0.021s clear of new team-mate Andrea Dovizioso as the Italian continues to get to grips with his new M1.