Ducati's Andrea Iannone made it a Qatar double on Friday as he remained on top in FP3 at the Losail International Circuit, heading off Jorge Lorenzo by 0.137 seconds.
Iannone, also fastest in FP2, improved his time to a 1m 54.639s lap to edge out the Movistar Yamaha of Lorenzo, while Marc Marquez remained in touch on the Repsol Honda, just under two tenths behind the leader.
Marquez struggled to make an impact during FP1 on Thursday but has clearly found a way forward on day two in Qatar with the RC213V after a lap in 1m 54.8325s.
Andrea Dovizioso was a big improver on the second of the factory Desmosedici machines as the Italian hauled himself up to fifth place, three tenths behind his team-mate. The Ducati pair headed the top speed charts, with Iannone clocking 350km/h while Dovizioso managed 349km/h – a huge 14km/h faster than Lorenzo's M1.
Suzuki's Maverick Vinales, touted by Valentino Rossi on Thursday as capable of running at the front throughout Sunday's opening round of the MotoGP World Championship, was fifth fastest on the GSX-RR, one place ahead the improving Dani Pedrosa, who actually toppled Iannone from the head of the times with 30 minutes to go in the session. Marquez was holding third, 0.4s back, with Vinales and Lorenzo next.
Pedrosa kept his nose in front on the Repsol Honda by a mere 0.03s to Iannone until Dovizioso powered through to take up the running with around nine minutes remaining as the pace intensified.
Lorenzo, fastest in the Qatar test by half-a-second from nearest challenger Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati GP15), then produced a blistering lap to move top from Dovi after a scorching final sector saw the reigning world champion gain five places on the time sheets.
The Mallorcan then turned the screw further on his next lap, breaking the 1m '55 barrier to stretch his advantage to 0.4 seconds, with a lap in 1m 55.776s, although Marquez also dipped into the 1' 54” bracket to go second.
Pedrosa bettered his time to slot into third but during a dramatic closing few minutes, Iannone found something extra to knock Lorenzo off the top while Marquez finished a confident-boosting third from Dovizioso and Vinales, with Pedrosa rounding out the first six.
Rossi, ninth at one stage as the session reached a conclusion, was safely inside the top ten in seventh to secure straight passage to Q2 on Saturday. Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati GP14.2), Redding and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Pol Espargaro also sealed their place in Q2, completing the top ten.
Redding was among the fallers after a tumble at turn 13 right at the end of the session, escaping unhurt.
British rider Bradley Smith came off for the second time on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, going down at turn 6 after appearing to lose the front. Smith was credited with the 12th fastest time behind Aleix Espargaro (Ecstar Suzuki), with Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati GP14.2) and Danilo Petrucci on the Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati 13th and 14th respectively.
Cal Crutchlow also finds himself in Q1 after ending FP3 in 15th on the LCR Honda, 1.3s adrift of Iannone.
Jack Miller, who came off at turn 9 at the end on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda, was 17th behind Yonny Hernandez on the Aspar Ducati, with Miller's team-mate and rookie Tito Rabat in 18th.
Aprilia duo Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl were 19th and 20th respectively, while Eugene Laverty brought up the rear on the second Aspar Ducati GP14.2.