CLICK HERE to view the results for MotoGP Free Practice (3).


Aleix Espargaro continued his unbeaten run to lead Friday night's third free practice session for the season-opening Qatar MotoGP.

Espargaro rode his new Open class Forward Yamaha to a time of 1m 54.773s, handing the Spaniard a substantial 0.413s advantage over nearest rival Andrea Iannone and signalling he'll be the man to beat for Saturday's pole position.

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Both Espargaro and Pramac Ducati's Iannone put their softer rear tyre, not available to the factory class Honda and Yamaha teams, to good effect - while much end-of-session attention was focused on who would miss out on direct access to Qualifying 2.

Those outside of the combined top ten after FP3 must take part in Qualifying 1, where they fight for the last two places in the Q2 pole position shootout.

The most notable names missing out on the top ten were Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Pol Espargaro and Factory Ducati's Cal Crutchlow. Rookie Espargaro was just 0.091s from Valentino Rossi and the final top ten place, while Crutchlow was forced onto his spare bike after an early fall.

The Englishman moved up two places with the aid of the softer tyre, but was still only twelfth, 1.240s from Aleix Espargaro and 0.091s from Pol.

Jorge Lorenzo's tyre misery continued, the Movistar Yamaha rider unable to hide his frustration at a lack of grip as he languished outside of the top ten for much of the 45-minutes.

The Spaniard, winner at Qatar for the last two seasons, eventually claimed seventh place in the closing stages. Lorenzo's progress, combined with Iannone's soft tyre leap, caused some tense final minutes for team-mate Rossi, before the Italian was confirmed in tenth position.

But the second night progress expected of the factory Yamahas did not materialise and they still appear to have much work ahead if they are to challenge for victory in the race.

Biggest mover of those that did not test at Qatar earlier this month was injured reigning champion Marc Marquez, who vaulted up to fifth position, 0.673s from Aleix Espargaro.

Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa joined Colin Edwards as the only rider not to improve in FP3, but had done enough to seal eighth place.

Behind Espargaro and Iannone, Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista took an impressive third position (+0.467s) - being the best rider without the softer compound rear tyre.

By contrast Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso ran the white-wall rubber to secure fourth.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Bradley Smith sealed sixth after escaping injury in a huge highside, moments after rain flags had been shown and shortly after he had moved to the top of the timesheets. The Englishman returned to the circuit on his spare machine.

Aspar's Nicky Hayden was once again the leading Open Honda rider, in 13th place and 1.584s from Aleix Espargaro, whose team-mate Colin Edwards was just 0.016s slower than the 2006 world champion.

The unique four-night Qatar schedule continues with Free Practice 4 and then the two-part Qualifying session on Saturday, followed by warm-up and the grand prix on Sunday.

Combined top 10 practice times:
1. Aleix Espargaro
2. Andrea Iannone
3. Alvaro Bautista
4. Andrea Dovizioso
5. Marc Marquez
6. Bradley Smith
7. Jorge Lorenzo
8. Dani Pedrosa
9. Stefan Bradl
10. Valentino Rossi