Andrea Iannone began Saturday in fine style by topping Saturday morning's FP3 from championship leader Valentino Rossi in a closely fought session.

Just a quarter of a second separated the top seven after the usual frantic final ten minutes saw all riders bar Jorge Lorenzo improve their times from Friday.

The impressive Marc Marquez - fretful of severe front tyre wear on Friday afternoon - was third after posting three ominous runs in the cooler morning temperatures, while Lorenzo was a place behind in fourth.

Indeed Lorenzo was set to improve and potentially go fastest of all before finding a touring Michele Pirro on the racing line on the exit of turn twelve. The Majorcan subsequently had to roll off the throttle while angrily shaking his head.

Bradley Smith made big gains on his Friday pace to end the session fifth, ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Pol Esaprgaro in sixth and seventh.

Those wondering how Rossi would approach the most important race of his career in six years could see the Italian fitting a new soft front and medium rear tyre towards the close of the 45 minutes to climb the leader board.

The nine-time champion, who sits just seven points ahead of Lorenzo, also ran cooling ducts on his Brembo brake discs, unlike his team-mate, in anticipation of plenty of overtaking as he plans to make his way through the field from last on the grid.

Fast on Friday morning but not the afternoon, Andrea Dovizioso was eighth fastest, with Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci rounding out the top ten.

There was disappointment for both Suzuki riders, as Aleix Espargaro (eleventh) and Maverick Vi?ales (13th) will be forced to join Yonny Hernandez (14th) and Scott Redding (19th) in Q1.

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