Marc Marquez remains the man to beat at Silverstone after topping the third practice session in a row. The world champion wasn’t flawless this morning though, crashing at The Loop midway through FP3, but he still had enough in hand to see off Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Much of the focus heading into final practice centred on the Movistar Yamahas who found themselves outside the all-important top ten. Any nerves were eased within the opening ten minutes as Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi hauled themselves to safety, climbing to fourth and sixth respectively. Their upturn in performance plunged Dani Pedrosa into danger but the Spaniard soon responded to go seventh with half an hour left on the clock.
Scott Redding was now the rider on the bubble and the Briton had former Moto2 rival Pol Espargaro aiming at his tenth spot. The Tech 3 rider was in danger of allowing his frustration to boil over when he was baulked by Yonny Hernandez at Copse but the 23 year old kept his head, clocking a 2:02.368 to go second overall. Not one both both Gresini Hondas were now in trouble and although Alvaro Bautista improved to tenth in the closing minutes, the Spaniard was bumped straight back out again and will be forced to join his teammate in Q1 this afternoon. At one stage, it looked as though Bradley Smith may have been forced into the first session after Andrea Iannone’s late burst knocked him out but the Briton set personal bests on each of his last two laps, rescuing his morning and lifting him back up to eighth.
At the front, Marquez had no concerns over his Q2 fate but a minor crash at The Loop added the first blot to his Silverstone copybook. The championship leader quickly atoned with the fastest lap of the weekend, a 2:01.926, on his second machine and that was enough to keep him 0.034s clear of Andrea Dovizioso who continues to impress aboard the Ducati. Dani Pedrosa eventually rose to third ahead of Yamaha trio Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Pol Espargaro with all three putting the problems of yesterday firmly behind them.
Stefan Bradl had a trouble free start to his weekend but this morning was far from straightforward with a crash at Farm keeping him back in seventh, just a tenth quicker than his FP2 time. Bradley Smith came next in eighth with Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro securing the last two automatic Q2 places.
Scott Redding will be one of four British riders in Q1 this afternoon with Cal Crutchlow failing to better his Friday time and falling to fifteenth while Leon Camier and Michael Laverty ended free practice 18th and 19th respectively.