Miller tops Valencia FP3 ahead of Zarco, Bagnaia narrowly makes Q2

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Jack Miller, Valencia MotoGP, 4 November 2022 // Gold & Goose / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202211041117 // Usage for editorial use only //

Jack Miller led the way in FP3 for the Valencia Grand Prix ahead of Johann Zarco, while Francesco Bagnaia narrowly held onto a guranteed-Q2 spot in ninth overall.

The cooler temperatures that gripped the Ricardo Tormo circuit on Saturday morning meant it would be trickier to improve laptimes relative to Friday afternoon’s FP2 outing, and this difficulty was soon proven as several riders crashed in the early portion of the session – including a fiery smash at Turn 8 for Marco Bezzecchi on his out-lap that caused a brief red flag, though he was OK.

Augusto Fernandez and Enea Bastianini also went down not long after the red flags were rescinded, with no improvement in laptime coming until Miller banged in the fastest lap of the weekend – a 1:30.095s – to go top.

As has been the norm in the second half of the 2022 campaign the battle for the fastest effort was staged between Ducati men, with Zarco hitting back on a 1:30.026s to move clear of the Aussie, though Miller wasn’t quite finished and managed to post a 1:29.921s gambit at the death to steal back the initiative.

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The duo would therefore hold onto the first two spots in the pole shootout ahead of the again-impressive Brad Binder for KTM, while Luca Marini held onto the fourth-best overall time despite not lapping quickly in FP3.

Fabio Quartararo ended up fourth in FP3 but fifth overall as he continues his quest to win at Valencia to do everything he can to try and wrestle away the title from Bagnaia, with Marc Marquez shadowing him in sixth for Honda.

Aleix Espargaro ended up seventh for Aprilia ahead of Pramac’s Jorge Martin – whose best FP2 time was also enough to see him make Q2 – while Bagnaia narrowly held onto ninth overall having at one point looked vulnerable of having to contest Q1.

The Ducati pilot managed to find a decent improvement when it mattered to move clear of both Suzuki riders, with 2020 MotoGP world champion Joan Mir scoring the last direct-to-Q2 passage in the Japanese brands final MotoGP event.

Mir’s team-mate Alex Rins missed out by just 0.005s to his countryman, though he’s in a good position to fight for one of the final two shootout berths ahead of Gresini’s Enea Bastianini, who ended up 12th.

Miguel Oliveira’s strong Friday failed to carry over to Saturday morning as he could lap only 13th fastest, while Maverick Vinales also struggled en-route to 15th overall behind Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli.

Bezzecchi had to make do with 18th after his early crash – as well as a second at Turn 6 in the closing stages – albeit still as top rookie just ahead of Tech 3 man Remy Gardner and the retuning LCR Honda of Takaaki Nakagami.

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