Marc Marquez laid down a marker for his rivals with a sensational time on his Honda around Indianapolis in the third practice session, as Bradley Smith showed great pace to grab a close second on his Tech 3 Yamaha.
Jorge Lorenzo’s fastest time from yesterday was 1m32.860s, and his first flyer this morning on his Yamaha was immediately faster – a 1m32.827s. After an early trip into a run-off zone, Marquez quickly responded with 1m32.661s.
Valentino Rossi’s best first-run time was only 1m33.439s, 0.8s off Marquez’s pace, which meant he stayed rooted in 10th.
Marquez improved to 1m32.392s on his final run, which stood as the fastest time of the session, and was well clear of weekend practice rival Lorenzo, who could only manage 1m32.819s and was down in fifth.
Smith annexed second with 1m32.421s, and put in a very promising long race simulation stint on the first of his three runs.
Ducati’s Andrea Iannone set the third-fastest time on his last lap of 1m32.718s.
Dani Pedrosa – who switched to the high-mass front brake disc to follow Honda teammate Marquez’s lead – worked his way down to a 1m32.759s to place fourth, with Lorenzo fifth, 0.4s off the pace.
Rossi struggles in ninth
Maverick Vinales had leapt to third with 10 minutes remaining using the soft tyre on his Suzuki, which knocked points leader Rossi temporarily out of the top 10. Rossi went for a final run on the softer rear to get back into the automatic Q2 qualifiers, and grabbed third at the time with 1m32.981s on his second flying lap.
But as his rivals improved, he just couldn’t respond, so Rossi slipped back to ninth.
Cal Crutchlow was sixth quickest on his LCR Honda, ahead of Aleix Espargaro on the fastest of the Suzukis.
Pol Espargaro set the eighth-quickest time then promptly dropped his Tech 3 Yamaha almost immediately, his second shunt of the weekend.
Surprisingly, Andrea Dovizioso failed to make the Q2 cut on the second Ducati.
Riders continued to evaluate the tyre compounds ahead of Sunday’s race, with all the frontrunners conducting long runs on a hard front and rear in this session.
|19||Mike Di Meglio||Ducati||1'34.332||1.940|
|22||Alex de Angelis||ART/Aprilia||1'35.188||2.796|