to view the Free Practice 3 results for the 2014 MotoGP of Argentina.
- Marc Marquez remains fastest in Saturday practice but advantage slashed.
- Pol Espargaro unhurt in heavy fall at final turn.
- Bradley Smith misses top ten place and will participate in Q1.
Marc Marquez kept his place at the head of the timesheets during Saturday morning practice for MotoGP's return to Argentina.
However the reigning world champion saw his advantage slashed from 1.083s on Friday to just 0.159s, again over team-mate Dani Pedrosa, as eight riders moved to within one second of the #93.
After a dusty, tyre munching debut day at the 'fun' Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, grip levels began to stabilise during FP3. While the best lap had improved by a massive 3.5s during the Friday sessions, Marquez's Saturday time - although the best of the weekend - was only 0.142s quicker than day one.
Leading the pursuit of the Repsol Honda riders was Valentino Rossi, the Movistar Yamaha rider spending much of the 45-minutes on the hard rear tyre (favoured by Marquez) before fitting a medium (like Pedrosa) for a late push to third place, just 0.287s from the top.
Aleix Espargaro exploited the special soft Open class rear tyre to pitch his Forward Yamaha into fourth place (+0.402s) with Andrea Dovizioso doing likewise to jump from twelve to an eventual fifth for Ducati (+0.586s).
Stefan Bradl held sixth for Honda a LCR with Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo seventh while on the hard rear tyre (+0.611s). The double world champion, who has scored just six points so far after a disastrous start to the year, set his best time during an impressive long run that included five sub-1m 40s laps.
To put that into perspective, Marquez did a total of seven sub 1m 40s laps this morning, Aleix Espargaro five, with just two for Pedrosa and one for Rossi, Dovizioso and Bradl.
Pramac Ducati's Andrea Iannone, aching from a heavy fall after a technical problem locked the back wheel at the end of the back straight on Friday, played the soft tyre joker card to secure a last minute eighth and direct entry into Qualifying 2.
That came at the expense of Bradley Smith, who was pushed to eleventh and will thus head for Qualifying 1. Smith's rookie Monster Yamaha tech 3 team-mate Pol Espargaro claimed the final top ten place despite a heavy fall out of the fast final turn, when the rear stepped out.
Fortunately the Moto2 champion showed no signs of damaging the collarbone he broke at the end of pre-season testing and was able to return on his spare bike.
The Factory class riders joining Smith in Qualifying 1 will be Colombian Yonny Hernandez and Cal Crutchlow's replacement Michele Pirro, the Ducati riders left twelfth and 16th respectively.
A difficult weekend so far for Alvaro Bautista at least saw the Spaniard claim entry to Qualifying 2 with ninth for Gresini Honda, while Open class team-mate Scott Redding was again locked in the timesheet shadow of Aspar Honda's Nicky Hayden, the pair finishing 14th and 15th.
Colin Edwards was just ahead of the Production Hondas in 13th place, as team-mate Aleix Espargaro continues to be in a class of his own.
All riders improved on their Friday best this morning.
Free Practice 4 and then the two Qualifying sessions take place in quick succession this afternoon.
Free Practice 3:
1. Marc Marquez
2. Dani Pedrosa
3. Valentino Rossi
4. Aleix Espargaro
5. Andrea Dovizioso
6. Stefan Bradl
7. Jorge Lorenzo
8. Andrea Iannone
9. Alvaro Bautista
10. Pol Espargaro
11. Bradley Smith
12. Yonny Hernandez
13. Colin Edwards
14. Nicky Hayden
15. Scott Redding
16. Michele Pirro
17. Karel Abraham
18. Mike Di Meglio
19. Broc Parkes
20. Hiroshi Aoyama
21. Danilo Petrucci
22. Hector Barbera
23. Michael Laverty