Sandro Cortese was in sparkling form as he set the fastest time in Third Practice for the 125cc Grand Prix of Spain.

In fact, the IntactRacing Team Germany rider had set three separate lap times, which were all quicker than his nearest challenger Nico Terol. His final effort of 1:47.066 put him half a second ahead of the Championship leader.

The pattern from the first two races was on display again in the final few minutes with Cortese and Terol going head-to-head for the fastest time, and as he had yesterday afternoon, it was the German who had the edge.

The session took place under cloudy skies, but without the wind that affected yesterday's running, and the times quickly tumbled.

Just before the halfway stage, Miguel Oliveira was the first rider to go beneath yesterday's fastest time, with a 1:48.347. The Portuguese rookie didn't improve in the remainder of the session but his lap was still good enough for third.

Hector Faubel put the second Bankia Aspar Aprilia in the top four but once again couldn't get near his teammate's pace. He finished just ahead of Jonas Folger, while Maverick Vinales completed an impressive morning for the rookies with sixth.

Vinales certainly had a much better morning than his teammate Sergio Gadea. The 26-year-old, who took a strong third place in Qatar, suffered a spill early in the session. Despite rejoining later on, he could only manage 13th.

Luigi Morciano also ran off the track in the closing stages on his way to 26th, but conditions were much more rider-friendly than they were yesterday.

Danny Kent led the way for the British quartet with 12th place, while Taylor Mackenzie had another promising run on the Phonica Racing Aprilia with 16th.

Danny Webb was 21st as he was outpaced by his teammate Marcel Schrotter for the first time this weekend, while Harry Stafford was 25th.

This afternoon's qualifying session promises to be a fascinating battle between the top two in the Championship. Cortese and Terol will start as favourites when qualifying begins at 12:00 BST.