European MotoGP: Zarco tops wet FP3 as Rossi returns

Avintia’s Johann Zarco dominated a wet third practice for the MotoGP European Grand Prix, as Fabio Quartararo ended up 3.2 seconds off the pace in 19th and Valentino Rossi returned from COVID-19.

European MotoGP: Zarco tops wet FP3 as Rossi returns
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The wet track meant no improvements on the combined times were had, locking the Q1 runners into place based on Friday’s FP2 running.

Quartararo has made it through to Q2 after ending Friday ninth overall, but FP3 proved to tough for the Petronas SRT rider as he continued to struggle with a lack of front end feeling in the wet conditions. 

Having finished last in the wet FP1 and 2.7 seconds off the pace, his fortunes failed to improve as he once again ended up just 19th in the session and 3.2s off of Zarco. 

Avintia’s Zarco took over top spot around six minutes into the session with a 1m42.985s, and traded first place with Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira and Honda’s Stefan Bradl in the opening stages.

With half the session gone, Oliveira on the sole Tech 3 KTM this weekend returned to the top of the pile with a 1m41.519s and bettered this on his next tour with a 1m41.352s. 

Zarco bested the Tech 3 rider with 15 minutes remaining with a 1m41.113s, which stood as the benchmark until the closing stages when the Frenchman put his own time under immense threat.

The Avintia rider guided his GP19 to a 1m40.735s, before one final effort of 1m40.007 cemented his position at the top of the timesheets when the chequered flag came out. 

Maverick Vinales leaped up to second in the closing stages on his factory Yamaha with a 1m40.743s, but missed the Q2 cut in 11th on the combined times. 

However, this is immaterial for the Yamaha rider as an engine change, which exceeds his allocation for the season, on Friday means he’ll have to start Sunday’s race from pitlane. 

Takaaki Nakagami was top Honda runner in third on the LCR RC213V, with Francesco Bagnaia fourth on the Pramac Ducati ahead of the sister LCR bike of Cal Crutchlow. 

Only Nakagami of that trio has made it straight into Q2, with sixth-placed Oliveira and the works Honda of Alex Marquez also missing the Q2 cut. 

Rossi was eighth on his first appearance since Le Mans following an enforced layoff due to COVID-19, but will face Q1 this afternoon having missed Friday’s running while he awaited the results of a PCR test.

The Suzuki’s of Alex Rins and Joan Mir completed the top 10 in FP2, with both making it into Q2 by virtue of their FP2 times – though the latter was fortunate to be elevated to 10th on the combined times after Crutchlow had his best lap cancelled. 

Fastest overall on the combined times, Pramac’s Jack Miller sat out FP3 to avoid any unnecessary risk having felt strong in the conditions on Friday.

He’ll go straight into Q2, as will Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), the KTM duo Pol Espargaro and Brad Binder and SRT’s Franco Morbidelli – all of whom finished outside of the top 10 in the wet FP3. 

European MotoGP - FP3 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'40.007  
2 Spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 1'40.743 0.736
3 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'41.071 1.064
4 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'41.193 1.186
5 United Kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 1'41.285 1.278
6 Portugal Miguel Oliveira KTM 1'41.352 1.345
7 Spain Alex Marquez Honda 1'41.589 1.582
8 Italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'41.642 1.635
9 Spain Alex Rins Suzuki 1'41.779 1.772
10 Spain Joan Mir Suzuki 1'41.864 1.857
11 Germany Stefan Bradl Honda 1'41.884 1.877
12 Italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1'42.009 2.002
13 Italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 1'42.301 2.294
14 Spain Pol Espargaro KTM 1'42.506 2.499
15 Spain Tito Rabat Ducati 1'42.547 2.540
16 Italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1'42.824 2.817
17 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'42.831 2.824
18 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'42.957 2.950
19 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'43.234 3.227
20 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 1'43.534 3.527
21 Australia Jack Miller Ducati    
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