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Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa has moved himself to the top of the timesheets ahead of qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix during a typically fast and fraught FP3 session in Jerez.
Though Aleix Espargaro stole the headlines on the first day of free practice as scorching weather conditions lessened the grip during the afternoon session, it took just minutes for his Friday marker to be easily surpassed by Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo early on in FP3.
From here, the two-time world champion continued to hold firm with a 1min 38.918secs lap until Pedrosa swept to the front in the closing minutes with a session-topping 1min 38.769secs.
Raising hopes of a closely-contested pole position fight later today, the top four would be split by a mere three tenths of a second, with Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi particularly closely matched in third and fourth.
On the weekend speculation about his immediate future
has been rife, Colin Edwards produced his most convincing effort of the year to go straight through into Q2 with the fifth best time, the American making the most of the extra-soft tyre compound to take 2.6secs off his best lap and out-pace Forward Yamaha team-mate Aleix Espargaro.
Friday pace setter Espargaro, meanwhile, slipped to seventh best but is still comfortably into Q2 with his team-mate, along with Stefan Bradl in sixth, plus Andrea Dovizioso and both Tech 3 Yamaha riders, with Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith going safe in ninth and tenth.
It means Q1 later this afternoon will be contested by a number of high-profile riders, including Alvaro Bautista and Cal Crutchlow, who were only 14th and 16th respectively, the duo coming in behind the remaining Ducatis of Michele Pirro, Andrea Iannone and Yonny Hernandez.
Elsewhere, Hiroshi Aoyama was the quickest of the Open class Hondas in 15th overall, while Scott Redding was 20th and Michael Laverty was 24th.