MotoGP: Rookie Zarco takes second pole at Motegi

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MotoGP rookie Johann Zarco has taken his second pole position of his debut MotoGP season on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine, powering to a late charge to take the top spot from Danilo Petrucci as many of the series’ factory machines struggled on the second day of rain at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Marc Marquez looked unassailable in the early stages of the session, but gambling with slick tyres on a still-damp circuit, he was left unable to compete with Zarco and Petrucci in the closing stages of the sessions, ending up lucky to hold on to the final front row spot in third at the end.

Aleix Espargaró will head the second row in fourth after only just missing out on the front row himself, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Qualifying one graduate Bradley Smith made it five manufacturers on the front three rows just ahead of teammate Pol Espargaró, while championship contender Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the row.

Valentino Rossi, the only other rider to gamble with a slick tyre, will start from 12th as the factory Yamaha’s woes continue, with teammate Maverick Viñales not even managing to break out of qualifying one to finish the day 14th.

Meanwhile, Cal Crutchlow looked set to make it through to fight for the front four rows until a big moment at the last corner on his fastest lap of the session means he’ll start behind Viñales in 15th.

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer