Pecco Bagnaia cemented his status as a serious contender for victory in the Emilia Romagna MotoGP by destroying the erstwhile lap record at Misano in FP3, before being brought down to earth literally with an uncomfortable tumble at Turn 6.

The Italian is riding high after achieving his maiden MotoGP podium in Misano last weekend on his return to racing action after a leg injury ruled him out for three events.

With lap times quickly tumbling across the board, Bagnaia proceeded to raise the bar to an unattainable level with nine minutes remaining when he posted a 1m 31.127secs lap, a full three tenths quicker than Maverick Vinales’ new record set just a week earlier.

However, Bagnaia’s hopes of carrying his form through to qualifying may be hampered by a tumble at Turn 6 just minutes later, a fall that is unlikely going to do his leg much good, not least because he still needs a crutch when moving around off the bike.

Nonetheless, he was able to limp away from the wreckage and was soon back in the garage, rather than heading to Clinica Mobile.

Despite the big step forward in lap time, it was still very close up front as most of the field made a substantial step forward with Vinales slotting into second position, just five hundredths shy of the Pramac Ducati rider.

Petronas SRT Yamaha duo Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli followed in third and fourth positions, while Joan Mir left it late to make the improvements he needed to book his place in Q2 comfortably with fifth.

Brad Binder and Takaaki Nakagami, meanwhile, could fall back on their FP2 efforts to ensure they too made it through to Q2 this time having having missed the cut last weekend, while Valentino Rossi was the biggest improver between sessions as he hauled himself up to eighth quickest overall.

Pol Espargaro notched up yet another accident during the closing stages of FP3 in what was a bruising minute or so for the KTM team. Fortunately for the Spaniard, who has now fallen four times at Misano since last weekend, he sneaked through to Q2 in ninth, with Danilo Petrucci out-qualifying Andrea Dovizioso to land the final spot in tenth.

As well as Espargaro, Miguel Oliveira suffered a fast crash at Turn 15, one that appeared to wind him as he made slow progress back up onto his feet. The accident scuppered his hopes of a Q2 place, leaving him 15th, and a potential doubt for qualifying later.

Those that will need to get out on track again in Q1 will be Jack Miller, who was left on the cusp in 11th, together with Aleix Espargaro, Johann Zarco, Alex Rins and Oliveira
 

 

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