Ducati power couldn’t be stopped in FP3, Andrea Iannone again commanding the field ahead of Marquez and Viñales.
Free Practice 3 for the premier class began with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) revealing his custom Mugello helmet. The one for 2016 featured even more yellow than usual and paid tribute to the great Mugello circuit, combing the track’s name with ‘giallo’ which is Italian for yellow. Both Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) also debuted special helmets for their home round.
Saturday got off to a disastrous start for Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) who lost the front at Turn 13 early in the session. He went to the medical centre holding his left arm and was later diagnosed with a broken left collarbone, ruling him out of the weekend.
Turn 13 proved a tricky corner for a number of riders, Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) suffering a similar crash to Rabat but able to walk away. Espargaro was almost immediately back on track
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) shot to the top of the time sheets on his sixth lap of the session, he and Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) some of the first to improve their times from Friday. Free Practice 3 is the last session MotoGP™ riders can improve their times and gain access to Q2 by ending in the top ten.
Their times wouldn’t last the session as the battle for Q2 passage began. Once again it was Andrea Iannone who put it all on the line to clock the fastest time, setting a 1’46.991 right at the end of the session. Mugello clearly brings out the best in the Italian and he no doubt heads into Q2 as the favourite for pole position.
Try as he might, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was unable to get ahead of Iannone, ending 0.089s back on the Italian. Once more Marquez was the leading Honda, the only Honda rider inside the top eight.
Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) managed a 1’47.170 to end 0.189s behind Iannone, the time coming even with a big moment out of Biondetti 2. Suzuki’s biggest issue in 2015 was top end engine performance, their dedication and tireless work paying off as Viñales is now able to challenge both the Yamaha and Honda machines down the straight.
Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) set the fourth fastest time to end not only as the fastest Independent Team rider, but also the second fastest Ducati. This put the Colombian ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) who was fifth fastest, 0.402s off Iannone’s time.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) were all inside the top ten on combined times and head into Q2 without issue. Under a second separated the top 13 riders.
While they may have secured a critical spot in Q2, both Rossi and Pedrosa need to improve their pace if they hope to battle for the podium on Sunday. Rossi himself has admitted he needs to start on the front two rows in order to be in with a chance.
Andrea Dovizioso’s (Ducati Team) neck pain continued to harm his performance as he finished the session in 12th, joining the likes of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Pol Espargaro in Q1. With so many big names in Q1, there are sure to be some big disappointments and surprises in the first shootout session.