Overall lap time improvements were few and far between for much of the first half hour of FP3, with Honda’s Marc Marquez the most significant mover in the early stages.
Marquez elected against a soft tyre time attack at the end of FP2 having not felt strong enough to take profit of the added grip, which left him in 12th on the Friday times.
Straight away in FP3 Marquez went out on a fresh soft rear tyre and set the benchmark time on the individual session timesheet of 1m21.097s, which was good enough to vault him to fifth on the combined order.
Marquez’s lap kept him top in FP3 until the final 15 minutes when Ducati’s Jack Miller began lighting up the timesheets.
The Australian produced a 1m20.526s to go fastest overall, though this came immediately under threat from Quartararo on the factory Yamaha.
Quartararo edged closer to the all-time Sachsenring lap record with a 1m20.348s with just over 12 minutes remaining, leading the field by 0.149 seconds at this stage.
Disaster struck the other side of the Yamaha garage a few moments later when Quartararo’s team-mate Vinales crashed at Turn 1, the Spaniard on the cusp of dropping out of the Q2 places in 10th.
Suzuki’s Joan Mir piled the pressure on Vinales in the final four minutes with a lap good enough for eighth, dropping the Yamaha rider down to 11th as he returned to the circuit on his second bike.
Vinales couldn’t rally in the latter stages and was only 13th at the chequered flag, dropping him into a Q1 session which is set to be a volatile battle.
World champion Joan Mir missed the Q2 cut by 0.025s on his Suzuki, with team-mate Alex Rins only 14th behind Vinales and Petronas SRT’s Franco Morbidelli.
Quartararo held onto top spot with his 1m20.348s, with Miller second on the Ducati 0.056s adrift in second ahead of Pramac’s Johann Zarco.
Friday pacesetter Miguel Oliveira is the only KTM in Q2 presently after ending FP3 fourth ahead of Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro and Pramac rookie Jorge Martin.
Takaaki Nakagami was the leading Honda runner in seventh on his LCR RC213V, with the final direct Q2 places sealed by Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia and the Marquez brothers – Marc leading Alex in ninth and 10th.
A late crash for Pol Espargaro – his third of the weekend – left him in Q1 and 19th on the other works Honda, the Spaniard trailing KTM’s Brad Binder as he struggles to understand the Sachsenring on a MotoGP bike.
Avintia’s Enea Bastianini fell at the start of the session at Turn 1 as 21st in the end ahead of Tech3’s Iker Lecuona, with just 1.2s covering the 22-rider field in FP3.