With the surface heating up nicely in Assen, premier class riders started with the dress rehearsal for Sunday before the battle for front row tickets to Q2. The final five minutes lighted up the timing screens and after Danilo Petrucci beat the lap record, it was Fabio Quartararo who got to keep it in the end. The Frenchman went under the radar as all eyes were on the drama lower down the timesheets but his hot lap as well as his race pace deserved an appreciative glance. Petrucci lost out on scribbling his name in the record books, at least until qualifying, but secured an easy Q2 spot from second position.
Maverick Viñales was the only man from the top ten who failed to improve on his Friday benchmark but it was good enough to keep him third in the combined standings and fifth in FP3. The Spaniard won’t have minded too much since his race pace was up there with the best. Marc Marquez in fourth place combined was the only rider to give the hard front tyre a go, not unusually, although it brought him slightly tamer pace, posting a series of high 1:33s and low 1:34s to the Yamaha’s mid to high 1:33s. The two Yamahas ahead of him at least. Valentino Rossi left pitlane for a time attack only in the final four minutes and once his hot lap got cancelled for exceeding track limits at turn 18, the Italian was left stranded in Q1.
Takaaki Nakagami continues to impress, this time by going straight to Q2 from fifth position, ahead of Franco Morbidelli, Jack Miller, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow - all five riders within a tenth of a second of each other and less than half a second off the leader.
Rossi’s late misfortune half-saved the day for Suzuki, who had both riders into Q1 at the time and saw Joan Mir promoted to the Q2 lineup. No such luck for Alex Rins, who will enjoy some extra track time in Q1 because of a minuscule seven hundredths of a second.