Marc Marquez hit the front for the first time in the British Grand Prix weekend by topping FP3 at Silverstone. Typically, the session ended frantically with riders battling to secure an automatic spot in Q2 this afternoon and Valentino Rossi succeeded by the skin of his teeth, sneaking through in tenth.
Improvements were few and far between in the early stages of the session with many riders over half a second shy on their opening runs, perhaps with one eye on tomorrow’s race where tyres are expected to be key. The only two riders to find time initially were both Britons as Scott Redding consolidated tenth and Alex Lowes continued his impressive progress aboard the Tech 3 Yamaha.
The Suzuki riders finally ignited the session just after the halfway mark with Vinales clocking the quickest time of the morning, closing the gap on Iannone’s overall best, while Aleix Espargaro made a half-second gain to climb five places up to third.
Ducati were still sitting pretty with Andrea Iannone’s FP2 time unbeaten heading into the final ten minutes but their table-topping rider put himself at risk of a Q1 spot by crashing at turn 12, the corner which caught out several on Friday and had already seen Alvaro Bautista slide off this morning.
With four minutes to go, the timing screens lit up with Cal Crutchlow delighting the home crowd with a 2:01.241 to usurp Iannone but the British joy was short-lived as Vinales regained top spot, a tenth faster. Marquez was circulating close behind the no.25 Suzuki though and snatched P1 away almost instantly, becoming the first rider to break the 2:01 barrier and end the morning in top.
Vinales joined his compatriot on a 2:00.9 with his last lap of the session but maintained second while Iannone used his spare Ducati and a set of seriously scruffy leathers to salvage third, a tenth behind. Crutchlow slipped back to fourth while Jorge Lorenzo was the leading Yamaha in fifth.
Scott Redding eventually climbed up to sixth ahead of Andrea Dovizioso while Dani Pedrosa needed a last-gasp effort to save himself, pipping the elder Espargaro to eighth. Rossi also saved his best for last but the Italian’s personal best in the dying seconds only scrambled him up to tenth. His Q2 place was secure though, knocking Pol Espargaro into Q1. Both Tech 3 Yamahas will feature in the first session but Lowes continued to impress on the no.22, lowering his best time to a 2:03.081 to finish within a second of his teammate.