MotoGP Motegi: Marquez tops FP3, Vinales forced into Q1

Marc Marquez set the pace in third practice for MotoGP's Japanese Grand Prix, as Maverick Vinales failed to make the automatic Q2 cut in wet conditions

MotoGP Motegi: Marquez tops FP3, Vinales forced into Q1

Both of Friday's sessions at Motegi were held in the rain and the weather failed to improve for Saturday morning, with Andrea Dovizioso's benchmark time of 1m54.877s never being seriously threatened.

It wasn't until Tito Rabat improved with 11 minutes to go that anybody managed to improve their Friday time, with the combined top 10 - which dictates who progress directly into Q2 - remaining unchanged until the final five minutes.

At this stage, Honda's Marquez held a 0.050s advantage over Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo at the head of the times with a best time of 1m55.508s.

Andrea Iannone, once again using the 'moustache' fairing Suzuki unveiled on Friday, briefly claimed the top spot with a 1m55.499s in the dying stages, before Marquez improved to a 1m55.254s to end the session on top.

Valentino Rossi, who remained stuck in 12th overall for much of the session, was one of the few riders to make a significant improvement on his Friday effort, breaching the top 10 with a 1m55.515s with two minutes to go.

The Yamaha rider then edged down to a 1m55.283s after the chequered flag to end up just 0.029s adrift of Marquez in the session, and fifth in the combined timesheets behind Dovizioso, Marquez, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) and Lorenzo.

Iannone's earlier time was enough for third for the session and seventh overall, behind Tech 3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco.

Completing the combined top 10 were Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) and Dani Pedrosa (Honda), both on the strength of their Friday times, and Alex Rins (Suzuki), who was sixth for the session behind Espargaro.

The second factory Yamaha of Maverick Vinales, could no better than 12th for the session with a best time of 1m56.354s, sinking to 14th overall - one place clear of Tech 3 rookie Kohta Nozane.

This means the Spaniard will have to battle through Q1 later on Saturday, with LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow also narrowly missing the Q2 cut by just 0.010s in 11th overall.

Scott Redding (Pramac Ducati) and Alvaro Bautista (Aspar Ducati) were the only crashers in a relatively incident-free session, although a number of others - Rossi included - suffered off-track moments.

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