Jorge Lorenzo sent a clear signal to his MotoGP rivals by blitzing the Brno lap record in third practice for the Czech Grand Prix, leading Valentino Rossi in a Yamaha one-two.
It didn't take long for Lorenzo's Friday benchmark of 1m56.499s to be beaten, as Marc Marquez moved to the top of the leaderboard in the first 10 minutes of the session with a 1m56.340s, which the Repsol Honda man followed up with a 1m56.180s on his next flying lap.
That remained the benchmark for the bulk of the session, as Marquez reeled off a series of laps in the mid-1m56s bracket and both Yamaha riders circulated in the high 1m56s during the middle phase.
Ducati's Andrea Iannone meanwhile hauled himself up to second with a time just 0.042s shy of Marquez's best effort, before the top riders attempted their qualifying simulations in the final 10 minutes.
Bradley Smith was the first to make a move, the Tech 3 Yamaha rider leaping from 13th to third with a time 0.151s off the pace, before Marquez lowered the bar with a 1m56.044s.
The Spaniard wouldn't have counted on both works Yamaha riders finding significant time in their closing laps, however: Lorenzo soared to the top spot with a scintillating lap of 1m55.476s - almost six tenths faster than his compatriot - while Rossi went second on a 1m56.031s.
That pushed Marquez down to third ahead of Smith, with Iannone's earlier effort good enough for fifth. Suzuki rider Maverick Vinales completed the top six, helped by the soft rear tyre.
Last-minute jumps by Ducati riders Yonny Hernandez and Hector Barbera, seventh and eighth fastest respectively, ensured several big names will have to fight their way into Q2, including Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki) and Pol Espargaro (Tech 3 Yamaha).
Just sealing their automatic Q2 spots were Andrea Dovizioso on the second works Ducati, and Dani Pedrosa, evidently struggling with ankle pain after his crash during FP2.
Jack Miller was the only man to crash in a relatively incident-free session, although Rossi did run wide into the gravel at Turn 13 - where he fell on Pedrosa's oil on Friday - in the closing stages.
|17||Mike Di Meglio||Ducati||1'57.463||1.987|
|21||Alex de Angelis||ART/Aprilia||1'58.239||2.763|
|22||Loris Baz||Yamaha Forward||1'58.256||2.780|
|25||Claudio Corti||Yamaha Forward||1'59.165||3.689|