AFP/Brno, Czech Republic
Johann Zarco claimed a surprise pole for this weekend’s Czech MotoGP yesterday three hundredths of a second ahead of championship leader Fabio Quartararo.
The Ducati-Avintia rider shut out his French compatriot who won the opening two rounds of the coronavirus-curtailed season from pole for Yamaha’s satellite SRT team. Zarco, 30, who left KTM in the middle of last season due to poor results, claimed his sixth career MotoGP pole and his first since 2018.
“I can’t believe it that I got pole position,” he said. “Beginning of qualifying, the first tyre, with the warmth, it was a bit too much and I couldn’t go as fast as I did this morning.
“On the second tyre I finally managed better my gap with the rider I was following. I’m just so happy. I need to use this good position to start well tomorrow,” he added.
Quartararo’s team-mate Franco Morbidelli will start in third for today’s race in Brno with seven-time champion Valentino Rossi in 10th and Andrea Dovizioso back in 18th.
The 21-year-old collided with LCR’s Cal Crutchlow early on in the second run and said the heat of 30 degrees celsius in Brno played a key role in his result.
“Really happy in the end, the most important thing was to be on the front row but unfortunately Cal crashed in front of us,” he told MotoGP’s website.
“We know in these times in these conditions, the track was really bad, the tarmac.We know that it’s the first lap of the tyre or it’s gone.
“It will not be an easy race, we know we have the pace to race and to fight for the podium so we will do our best for tomorrow and it will be a totally different race from Jerez.” Yamaha’s Rossi, who is eyeing his 200th career podium, also bemoaned the weather conditions.
“Unfortunately the temperature rose a lot in the afternoon and the asphalt was also 10 degrees hotter than yesterday, and we suffered because of this,” he told his team’s website.
“I will have to start from P10.This is bad news for tomorrow’s race, because everybody is strong and starting from further down the grid will be very hard.
“But my pace is good, so I will have to start well and try to ride a good race and recover some positions,” he added.
World champion Marc Marquez continues to be absent as he recovers from another bout of surgery on the arm he broke in a first race crash of the campaign.
Ducati-Pramac’s Francesco Bagnaia also misses the race after fracturing his leg on Friday.
Youngster Quartararo leads second-placed Maverick Vinales, who starts fifth at the Masaryk Circuit, by 10 points in the championship standings.
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