MotoGP Aragon: Miller heads Ducati lockout in FP3

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati was firmly in control at Motorland Aragon with a top five lockout led by Lenovo’s Jack Miller on Saturday morning.

Pecco Bagnaia trailed his teammate by a mere 0.03s at the close of free practice three with Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi completing the closely matched top three just two-hundredths of a second behind. The entire top five covered by less than a tenth after 45-minutes on track.

Bezzecchi was the first on the pace as FP3 fired up on Saturday morning. The Italian taking command of the session standings as he circulated with a 1’47.995, half a second adrift of the outright target but placing him 14th overall. Fellow Ducati rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio sat second on the Gresini, a quarter of a second behind with Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo running third.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was back to his best with a classic save at the final corner after ten minutes on track. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro advancing to third with his fifth lap as WithU Yamaha’s Darryn Binder rose to fifth thanks to a 1’48.5.

Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir was the first inside the top ten to advance the pace, the 2020 Champion setting a 1’47.763 on his return from injury as he claimed ninth overall at the halfway stage. The second returnee, Marquez, suffering his first crash with an early slide at turn seven, before the eight-time champ was quickly up on his feet and heading back to the box.

LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami was the next to improve as he advanced to eighth overall. The move dropping Mir to the edge of the promotion zone with Miller demoted out. The Japanese rider continuing his climb with a P4-worthy 1’47.549 lap next time around.

The times began to ignite as the final 15 minutes counted down. Alex Rins demoting his Suzuki teammate out of contention on his way to fourth as Miller hit the top with the first 1’46 of the weekend. Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder and Quartararo claimed second and third respectively with ten to go as Bagnaia bailed out of his first hot-lap with a scare at turn 14.

LCR’s Alec Marquez and Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini switched places in the danger zone as the session continued. Bagnaia recovering to fourth overall just over three-tenths off his teammate at the front. Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco the sole riders yet to improve from inside the promotion zone with both Aprilias still outside.

Nakagami was back in fourth as the final minutes counted down. Binder improving his best as teammate Miguel Oliveira joined him in the top three. Martin demoting the KTM pair next time around with an effort on the bubble of 1’47. Aleix Espargaró staked his claim on a promotion spot from ninth as Binder brought out the yellow flags with a turn two crash. Both Zarco and Enea Bastianini improved then dropped out of contention in the fast-paced end of session shuffle as the second Gresini claimed tenth.

Both WithU Yamaha’s crashed out in the closing minutes as binder, then Cal Crutchlow went down, Rins the final faller in quick succession as the chequered flag prepared.

Bagnaia rose to join his teammate for a factory Ducati one-two at the close of play, Bezzecchi and Bastianini completing the joy for the Bologna manufacture in third and fourth with Martin completing the top five. KTM’s Binder and Oliveira maintained their hold in sixth and seventh with Quartararo, Nakagami and Rins rounding out the promotion places. Both Aprilia’s facing the Q1 fight alongside Marquez, Mir and Zarco.

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