Reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo set the pace in the third practice session at Circuit of the Americas, as a number of potential event favorites were consigned to contesting the first qualifying segment.

Key moments:

– Quartararo leads Bastianini and Miller

– COTA king Marquez a strong fourth, but impedes Bastianini

– Crash costly for Q1-bound Martin

– Rins, both Aprilias and all KTMs also heading for Q1

So formidable was Johann Zarco’s Friday benchmark that it stayed well out of reach for the vast majority of the FP3 session, even as riders began to swap to fresh soft rear rubber en masse.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, a 2m04.420s from Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati) finally deposed Zarco in the combined classification, and this kept him top until the checkered flag fell.

However, a last-gasp improvement from Quartararo, featuring a mammoth final sector, lifted the Yamana man past Bastianini with a 2m02.361s.

The factory Ducatis of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia progressed into Q2 directly from third and fifth respectively, with the factory Hondas of the returning Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro did likewise in fourth and sixth – Espargaro doing so after suffering from food poisoning on Friday that left him “completely destroyed” and still struggling overnight, according to his team boss Alberto Puig.

Marquez, for his part, seemed to baulk a late improvement attempt from Bastianini so could yet be subject to a stewards’ investigation.

Despite a late crash at Turn 11, Joan Mir advanced into Q2 from seventh courtesy of a prior lap, whereas his Suzuki team-mate Alex Rins – who had looked so strong through Friday – will have to face Q1.

Also facing Q1 is Argentine GP winner Aleix Espargaro and his Aprilia team-mate Maverick Vinales, with the elder Espargaro left on the outside looking in by LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and VR46 Ducati’s Luca Marini.

Zarco was among those to crash in the session, falling at Turn 1 late on, but though he hadn’t improved on his Friday time that was still plenty good enough to book him a Q2 spot.

However, his Pramac Ducati team-mate Jorge Martin – likewise crashing and failing to improve on his Friday effort – was not so lucky and will go into Q1.

Among the other riders who will face the first qualifying segment are the second works Yamaha of Franco Morbidelli and all four KTMs – including its top rider Brad Binder, who crashed late on.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda) and Darryn Binder (RNF Yamaha) rounded out the fallers on what was a much more crash-strewn session than either of Friday’s practices.

Practice 3 Results

Pos Name Team Bike Gap Next Gap Leader Best Time
1 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 2m02.361s
2 Enea Bastianini Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati + 0.059s + 0.059s 2m02.42s
3 Jack Miller Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati + 0.027s + 0.086s 2m02.447s
4 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team Honda + 0.043s + 0.129s 2m02.49s
5 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati + 0.131s + 0.26s 2m02.621s
6 Pol Espargaró Repsol Honda Team Honda + 0.177s + 0.437s 2m02.798s
7 Joan Mir Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki + 0.076s + 0.513s 2m02.874s
8 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda + 0.034s + 0.547s 2m02.908s
9 Luca Marini Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati + 0.013s + 0.56s 2m02.921s
10 Aleix Espargaró Aprilia Racing Aprilia + 0.076s + 0.636s 2m02.997s
11 Alex Rins Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki + 0.075s + 0.711s 2m03.072s
12 Franco Morbidelli Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha + 0.014s + 0.725s 2m03.086s
13 Maverick Viñales Aprilia Racing Aprilia + 0.268s + 0.993s 2m03.354s
14 Andrea Dovizioso WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha + 0.016s + 1.009s 2m03.37s
15 Johann Zarco Pramac Racing Ducati + 0.143s +1.152s 2m03.513s
16 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM + 0.109s + 1.261s 2m03.622s
17 Jorge Martin Pramac Racing Ducati + 0.051s + 1.312s 2m03.673s
18 Alex Marquez LCR Honda Castrol Honda + 0.16s + 1.472s 2m03.833s
19 Miguel Oliveira Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM + 0.116s + 1.588s 2m03.949s
20 Remy Gardner Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM + 0.15s + 1.738s 2m04.099s
21 Darryn Binder WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha + 0.197s + 1.935s 2m04.296s
22 Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46 Racing Team Ducati + 0.053s + 1.988s 2m04.349s
23 Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati + 0.157s + 2.145s 2m04.506s
24 Raul Fernandez Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM + 0.036s + 2.181s 2m04.542s

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