MotoGP Silverstone: Espargaro out paces Martin for FP3

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was the man of Saturday morning with a 1’58.254 lap after an intense MotoGP FP3 at Silverstone.

Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin was a mere 0.028s shy of the best premier class time with Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller another half a tenth back for third.

Saturday practice began with Pramac’s Johann Zarco leading the way on 2’00 pace with Miller and Ducati teammate Pecco Bagnaia firing up from second and fourth before the Australian bettered to first. Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales claimed second with Red Bull KTM’s Miguel Oliveira demoting Bagnaia for fifth.

Fabio Quartararo kicked the second day at Silverstone off from sixth in the session times as the leading quintet continued to squabble for position. Zarco returning to the top with the first 1’59 of the day from Miller and Viñales as Brad Binder, Espargaro, Enea Bastianini and Joan Mir completed the top ten.

The South African joined his KTM teammate in fifth next time around before the pattern continued above. Bagnaia slotting in behind Miller in third with Espargaro doing likewise just 0.068s shy of the leading RS-GP in fourth and fifth as the Austrian outfit dropped down and were slit by the reigning champion from seventh.

Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini continued his strong showing with a move to ninth, albeit still adrift of the Q2 places overall. Teammate Marco Bezzecchi holding the gateway time to promotion as just four-tenths covered the top ten, with Bagnaia and Marini the first denied.

Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins rose to third at the halfway stage before continuing to improve next time around on a near silent track. The Spaniard’s 1’59.431 headed the session with 20 minutes to go with LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami the first rider to improve on his Friday pace from 14th overall.

Second half moves found Binder and Nakagami sitting fifth and sixth before Oliveira jumped to the lead. The Portuguese rider’s 1’59.3 immediately bettered by Aprilia’s Espargaro as Alex Marquez joined the party in third.

The final 15 minutes saw a flurry of activity on soft tyres as Viñales and Espargaro found the first 1’58’s of the day. Top Gun heading his team captain by 0.096s before improving again with a 1’58.599. Espargaro not one to be outdone as the number 41 found a 1’58.254. Mir initially holding third before being demoted by Jorge Martin. The Pramac success continued as Zarco joined the fun with Miller striking for second moments later. Quartararo arriving to fourth and ahead of his countryman as the top seven now ran under the 1’59 barrier.

Rins was the first of the front runners yet to improve as he held ninth in the combined times. Marini the gatekeeper from Bastianini and rookie teammate Bezzecchi before Bagnaia knocked him out with a lap worthy of seventh.

Less than a tenth covered the top three with ten minutes left on the clock as Zarco completed the trio. Positions holding fast until the final five minutes fired up. Marini and Rins were the first to strike, for sixth and seventh respectively, with Bagnaia and Mir now in danger in the closing stages. The Italian and Espargaro tripping each other up on a fast lap with Bagnaia’s frustrations boiling over on track.

Martin consolidated his position in seventh despite a yellow flag in the closing three minutes. Mir up to sixth with teammate Rins improved in ninth and Bagnaia dropped to tenth.

The Ducati rider pushed hard for sixth in the final minute as Zarco crashed out of a threateningly hot lap in sector three. The yellow flags impeding the closing efforts with Quartararo consolidating fifth as Martin stormed to second at the flag. Rins the final rider to secure direct promotion with Bezzecchi, Bastianini, Franky Morbidelli and Oliveira heading for the Q1 fight.

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