There was no stopping Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez as the reigning MotoGP World Champion continued to prove an immovable object at the top of the FP3 leaderboard, although Britain's Cal Crutchlow closed the gap to the 22-year-old with a blistering lap.

Two-time premier class champion Marquez improved his best time slightly in the third free practice session in Qatar, lapping in 1m 54.822s to remain rooted to the top of the times, breaking Casey Stoner's circuit lap record from 2008 (1m 55.153s).

However, CWM LCR Honda rider Crutchlow produced his best lap of the weekend so far to make sure of his straight progression to Q2 on Saturday, recording a time of 1m 54.918s as he finished FP3 only 0.096s behind Marquez on the satellite RC213V.

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Andrea Iannone went third fastest as the Italian rider also dipped under the 1m 54s barrier in 1m 54.922s on the Ducati, narrowly edging out the impressive Aleix Espargaro on the Suzuki GSX-RR by a miniscule 0.002s.

Iannone missed the closing stages of the 45-minute session after coming off the GP15 at turn 2, with Alex de Angelis, Loris Baz and Marco Melandri also finding themselves in the gravel trap at the same corner in FP3.

Dani Pedrosa was fifth quickest on the Repsol Honda in 1m 55.024s with the top six rounded out by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), whose time of 1m 55.044s was 0.222s behind Marquez.

Next up was Pramac Ducati's Yonny Hernandez (1m 55.102s), who finished ahead of Movistar Yamaha pair Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

With Qatar traditionally trumpeted as a Yamaha circuit, both Lorenzo and Rossi will be aiming to take a big step forward on Saturday, although the factory M1 riders aren't too far behind Marquez, ending FP3 0.286s and 0.370s off the top time respectively.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Pol Espargaro completed the top 10 to guarantee his place in Q2 after a lap in 1m 55.328s.

Scott Redding (Marc VDS Honda) was 12th fastest behind Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati, with Maverick Vinales on the second of the Suzuki GSX-RR machines in 13th place.

Stefan Bradl finished as the leading Open class rider on the Athina Forward Yamaha in 14th place with a time of 1m 55.694s putting him ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati).

American rider Nicky Hayden was 16th on the Aspar Honda (1m 55.789s), though Bradley Smith will be disappointed after ending the session down in 18th position on the second of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machines, one place ahead of Aspar Honda's Eugene Laverty, who made excellent progress on the RC213V-RS to improve his time to 1m 55.913s, only 1.091s behind Marquez.