Jorge Lorenzo showed no sign of overnight strain from his recently tweaked shoulder as he pulled 0.4s clear of the field with a record lap during FP3 for the Japanese MotoGP.

Describing his left shoulder as 'not the same as normal' despite leading both Friday sessions, the 2015 title contender picked up where he left off on Saturday morning.

The Movistar Yamaha rider, just 14 points from team-mate Valentino Rossi, again led most of the 45-minutes, only briefly relinquishing the top spot to Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso when the Ducati riders fitted their extra-soft rear tyre in the closing minutes.

Related Articles

Lorenzo's response, on a new soft rear, was to lop 0.5s from his best time, then improve by a further two tenths on his final lap. That 1m 44.089s lap was half-a-second under Dovizioso's 2014 pole record. It kept Iannone at bay by 0.408s and Dovizioso by 0.479s with injured world champion Marc Marquez best of the rest in fourth (+0.682s).

The soft tyre looks set to be the favoured race choice, if it stays dry, but Marquez spent much of the session on the medium rear, leaving him at the lower end of the top ten until the closing stages.

The Repsol Honda star looked a little ashen-faced at the end of the session, when his healing hand was cloaked in an ice bag, suggesting last week's training fracture (and surgery) is hurting him more than he is letting on.

MotoGP title leader Valentino Rossi was an early improver over yesterday's eighth place, eventually finishing the session in fifth. The Italian found 0.7s relative to his Friday time, but so did Lorenzo, meaning the gap between them stands at 0.733s.

Rossi said on Friday that the best situation for him would be for the Ducatis to qualify ahead of Lorenzo with the aid of their Open class extra-soft tyre. The worst situation for the #46 would be if Lorenzo took pole with the hard-to-pass Desmosedicis starting just behind him - that was exactly the scenario in FP3.

Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa, second but struggling with handling issues on Friday, was the first of five riders not to improve this morning and slipped to sixth on combined times.

The remaining top ten places, for direct access to this afternoon's Qualifying 2, were taken by Pol Espargaro, Cal Crutchlow (LCR), Bradley Smith and Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki).

Tech 3 team-mates Espargaro and Smith both fell during the session, with Smith and Aleix Espargaro not improving on their Friday time.

Scott Redding (Marc VDS) and Maverick Vinales (Suzuki) lead the Qualifying 1 list, which will also include top Open rider Hector Barbera, Pramac Ducati pair Danilo Petrucci and Yonny Hernandez, plus factory wild-cards Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha) and Takumi Takahashi (Honda).

FP3:
1. Jorge Lorenzo
2. Andrea Iannone
3. Andrea Dovizioso
4. Marc Marquez
5. Valentino Rossi
6. Pol Espargaro
7. Cal Crutchlow
8. Bradley Smith
9. Scott Redding
10. Maverick Vi?ales
11. Dani Pedrosa
12. Aleix Espargaro
13. Hector Barbera
14. Danilo Petrucci
15. Yonny Hernandez
16. Takumi Takahashi
17. Alvaro Bautista
18. Nicky Hayden
19. Katsuyuki Nakasuga
20. Mike Di Meglio
21. Jack Miller
22. Stefan Bradl
23. Eugene Laverty
24. Loris Baz
25. Toni Elias
26. Alex De Angelis
27. Kousuke Akiyoshi