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Quartararo commands pack in eventful FP3

PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL – APRIL 16: Fabio Quartararo of France and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rides at Autodromo Internacional Do Algarve on April 16, 2021 in Portimao, Portugal. (Photo by Steve Wobser/Getty Images)

Portimão Grand Prix FP3 session saw Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo top the timesheets, a red flag after Jorge Martin’s shocking crash and three premier class World Champions in Q1.

Fabio Quartararo led an incredibly dramatic FP3 of the Portimão Grand Prix. The session saw big names missing out on jumping directly into Q2, including Joan Mir, Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. Indeed, there seems to be a monumental shift taking place in the sport as the younger generation take the lead. For instance, SKY VR46 Avintia Team rider and Rossi’s half-brother, Marini, though just a rookie, finished in seventh – his best MotoGP session so far.

The excitement initially began after there was contact between Morbidelli and Nakagami after just five laps. The Japanese rider headed to the pits where he remained for the rest of the session, seemingly in a lot of discomfort after his big accident yesterday.

With a little under 20 minutes to go Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro jumped into third and then again into first with a 01.39.345s in an early time attack. His position didn’t hold long, however, with riders getting softs fitted onto the bikes ready for the end of the session. Jack Miller cleared Esparago’s time by collecting a 01.39.345, just a few minutes later.

With only four minutes to spare the session was red flagged after Pramac Racing rider, Jorge Martin, also had an accident into Turn 7. The Spaniard, though conscious, was laying in the gravel trap for quite some time, apparently unable to move as a result of the amount of pain he was in. Martin has since been declared unfit to continue to ride the rest of the weekend as a result of contusions to his head, right hand, and right ankle.

As a result of this crash coming so late into the session, viewers experienced what appeared to be a mini qualifying, with a shoot-out occurring in the final few minutes. However, this frantic end to the session did not leave Quartararo concerned as his 01.39.044s was left unchallenged. He led former teammate Morbidelli, who rode a 01.39.095 and Bagnaia. Bagnaia, in particular, made an impression in the late stages; he started in tenth when the session was red flagged and leaped into third with a 01.39.117. Zarco lies in wait just behind the top three, Rins claims a respectable P5, and Miller, after recent arm-pump surgery, finished in P6. Aleix Espargaro after leading for a short time squeezed into eighth alongside Oliveira (ninth) and Viñales (tenth) who also scraped an automatic Q2. Both Marquez’ made mistakes in the final few laps, with Alex suffering a late crash into Turn 3 and Marc running wide at Turn 1. They placed 11th and 15th respectively.

FP4 was relatively uneventful (with riders simply testing out different tire combinations for the race tomorrow) up until Pol Esparago being violently thrown from his bike into the final turn and Luca Marini also crashing in the last few minutes. Both riders hobbled off the track, seemingly okay.

MotoGP Portimão Grand Prix FP3 top 10 results:

1Fabio Quartararo1.39.044+0.000
2Franco Morbidelli1.39.095+0.051
3Francesco Bagnaia1.39.117+0.073
4Johann Zarco1.39.228+0.184
5Alex Rins1.39.328+0.284
6Jack Miller1.39.345+0.301
7Luca Marini1.39.600+0.556
8Aleix Esparago1.39.690+0.646
9Miguel Oliveira1.39.697+0.653
10Maverick Viñales1.39.742+0.698
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