Hometown hero Valentino Rossi gave the limited number of fans permitted to attend Misano this weekend reason to make a big noise as he powered to the top spot in third free practice for the San Marino MotoGP.

The Italian picked his moment perfectly, avoiding intermittent yellow flags around the circuit following a flurry of crashes late on to pump in a 1m 31.816secs lap in the closing moments of the session.

Coming into FP3 having showcased his latest Misano-special helmet - 46g of Valentino Viagra - a ‘hardened’ Rossi led a Yamaha 1-2-3 as the Iwata manufacturer stamped its mark on proceedings ahead of qualifying later today.

 

 

His factory team-mate Maverick Vinales was the only other rider to break into the 1m 31secs bracket in second, with championship leader Fabio Quartararo coming in third.

Jack Miller made the biggest gains between sessions to soar up to fourth position, though didn’t help his cause as one of three riders to crash in the final five minutes, the Australian suffering a fast low-side at the final corner. 

Alex Rins and Joan Mir ensured both Suzuki riders would make it directly into Q2 with a crucial fifth and sixth respectively, while Pecco Bagnaia - still on crutches when off the bike this weekend - an impressive seventh.

Johann Zarco - together with Andrea Dovizioso in tenth - made it four Ducati riders heading straight into Q2, while Franco Morbidelli’s ninth also means Yamaha is at full strength for the pole position-deciding afternoon session.

Having had all four riders inside the top ten on Friday, KTM’s fortunes dwindled under the pressure of FP3 with both Pol Espargaro and Iker Lecuona ruining their chances with crashes. Espargaro had looked on course for a good time when he dumped the RC16 at Turn 12, leaving him in 11th place..

Having lauded his fast lap on used tyres on Friday, Aleix Espargaro couldn’t get the soft tyre turned on to get him any higher than 12th, while Takaaki Nakagami couldn’t spare Honda’s blushes in 13th as the manufacturer faces up to losing Cal Crutchlow’s services this weekend.

Second quickest on Friday, Lecuona’s crash prevented him from setting a better time, dropping him down to 14th from Miguel Oliveira, Danilo Petrucci and Brad Binder, another two riders who couldn’t make the most of their strong Friday positions.

Bradley Smith was another to take a tumble, but was still quick enough to see off both Repsol Hondas, which will also head into Q1 with the 19th and 21st best times in the order of Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl.
 

 

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