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To the relief of all involved, the rain that plagued Friday’s events stayed clear for MotoGP FP3 at Aragon, a session which saw Marc Marquez and Maverick Viñales stake their claims for pole position this afternoon, the two title challengers placing first and second.

An outing that was high on intrigue, Mika Kallio produced arguably KTM’s finest showing in MotoGP to date, with the Finnish wildcard placing an eye-catching fifth fastest, a sight that will no doubt concern full-time rider Bradley Smith 17 places behind in 22nd.

And of course there was the small matter of Valentino Rossi. After Friday’s sessions eased him into his return from a double leg fracture, the 38-year old had his first opportunity to sample his physical dexterity aboard Yamaha’s M1 in the dry.

He didn’t disappoint either, and thanks to a late effort, he placed tenth overall, automatically qualifying for this afternoon’s Q2 session. All just 23 days after sustaining the injury, too. It appears there is little doubt the Italian will race on Sunday.

Marquez’s advantage come the end of the 45 minutes was a sizeable 0.31s. His pace across the morning was ominous, and although Viñales responded in the final third of the session, the championship leader’s final time of 1m 48.252s – just 0.1s off the official track record – will serve as a warning of his intentions.

Viñales, meanwhile, will be relieved the rear traction issues from Friday’s wet session were not in evidence here. Having begun slowly, the 22-year old slowly worked his way toward the front in a similar fashion to free practice at Misano two weeks ago.

An all Catalan duel for pole position may ensue this afternoon, as Dani Pedrosa was third fastest, with Alvaro Bautista making it an all-Spanish top four with a fine ride to the fourth quickest time.

Like title rival Viñales, Andrea Dovizioso took some time to come up to speed. It took the fitting of soft front and rear tyres to really up his pace, with the Italian tailing Marquez ten minutes from the chequered flag to post the fastest time. He would eventually drop to sixth.

Aleix Espargaro showed a heartening turn of pace aboard Aprilia’s RS-GP in seventh, with Cal Crutchlow – still feeling the discomfort of the finger injury sustained before Misano – eighth. Andrea Iannone set the ninth quickest time before falling at turn five.

With Rossi’s late lap in mind, Jorge Lorenzo (eleventh), Pol Espargaro (twelfth) and Danilo Petrucci (13th) all finished outside the top ten, meaning they will contest the top two places in this afternoon’s Q1 session.

There they will be joined by Jack Miller (15th) and the Tech 3 pairing of Johann Zarco (19th) and Jonas Folger (23rd) who fell at turns one, three and two respectively. Folger’s spill in particular was an ugly one, the German falling off the side of his M1 before pitching into the turn. He could be seen holding his right shoulder soon after the crash.


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