Marc Marquez was the man to beat in the third practice session for the Argentina MotoGP race, hanging on at the top of the timesheets from Jorge Lorenzo despite suffering a late crash.
WIth track conditions improving compared to the first two sessions on Friday, it took no time at all for factory Honda rider Marquez to break through the benchmark he had set in FP2, recording a 1m40.899s on only his second flying lap.
The two-time champion followed that up with a succession of improvements, working his way down to a 1m40.529s with just under 20 minutes remaining before improving to a 1m40.368s.
In the last 10 minutes, Marquez lost the front end of his factory Honda RC213V at Turn 1, ending up in the gravel - promptly dashing back to the pits to use the spare bike, but failing to improve thereafter.
Lorenzo, who had ended a miserable Friday down in 14th, came closest to deposing Marquez, setting a number of overall best third sector times only to lose ground in the last sector.
In the end, the Yamaha rider finished just 0.024s adrift, three tenths clear of the factory Ducati of Andrea Iannone in third place.
A late improvement for Hector Barbera promoted the Avintia Ducati rider to a surprise fourth place, just under four tenths adrift, ahead of Suzuki's Maverick Vinales and the second works Honda of Dani Pedrosa.
Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and a somewhat off-colour Valentino Rossi on the slower of the factory Yamahas completed the top 10, all sealing automatic spots in Q2.
Marc VDS rider Jack Miller, fourth on Friday, just missed out on a place in Q2 in 11th, and will have to fight his way through the first qualifying session along with the Tech 3 Yamahas of Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith.
Scott Redding had a tough time aboard the Pramac Ducati, ending the session down in 17th, two places behind teammate Michele Pirro - who only arrived on Friday afternoon and missed both FP1 and FP2.
|1||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1:40.368|
|2||Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:40.392||+0.024|
|3||Andrea Iannone||Ducati Team||Ducati Desmosedici GP16||1:40.741||+0.373|
|4||Hector Barbera||Avintia Racing||Ducati Desmosedici GP14||1:40.766||+0.398|
|5||Maverick Vinales||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||Suzuki GSX-RR||1:40.796||+0.428|
|6||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1:40.807||+0.439|
|7||Aleix Espargaro||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||Suzuki GSX-RR||1:40.893||+0.525|
|8||Cal Crutchlow||Team LCR||Honda RC213V||1:40.929||+0.561|
|9||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati Team||Ducati Desmosedici GP16||1:41.040||+0.672|
|10||Valentino Rossi||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:41.101||+0.733|
|11||Jack Miller||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda RC213V||1:41.145||+0.777|
|12||Pol Espargaro||Tech 3||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:41.171||+0.803|
|13||Bradley Smith||Tech 3||Yamaha YZR-M1||1:41.246||+0.878|
|14||Loris Baz||Avintia Racing||Ducati Desmosedici GP14||1:41.359||+0.991|
|15||Michele Pirro||Octo Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati Desmosedici GP15||1:41.379||+1.011|
|16||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia RS-GP||1:41.679||+1.311|
|17||Scott Redding||Octo Pramac Yakhnich||Ducati Desmosedici GP15||1:41.726||+1.358|
|18||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda RC213V||1:41.798||+1.430|
|19||Stefan Bradl||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia RS-GP||1:41.909||+1.541|
|20||Yonny Hernandez||Aspar Racing Team||Ducati Desmosedici GP14||1:41.924||+1.556|
|21||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Racing Team||Ducati Desmosedici GP14||1:42.106||+1.738|