MotoGP: Zarco shatters ten year record for Qatar pole

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Johann Zarco will start on pole position for the opening round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship at the Losail International circuit after shattering Jorge Lorenzo’s long-standing circuit record.

The Frenchman’s time of 1’53.680 saw him lap 0.247 seconds quicker than Lorenzo’s circuit best, which was set on super sticky qualifying rubber all the way back in 2008.

Leaving it late in the session to set the blistering lap, Zarco brushed off his FP4 tumble to beat reigning world champion Marc Marquez to the top spot with the Repsol Honda star 0.202 seconds off Zarco’s quickest time.

Danilo Petrucci will start third for the Alma Pramac Ducati team as the third rider under Lorenzo’s record.

Britain’s Cal Crutchlow will head up the second row after pipping factory Ducati man Andrea Dovizioso by 0.002 seconds while Alex Rins’ impressive weekend continues as he secures sixth place for Suzuki.

Dani Pedrosa will start seventh on the second Repsol Honda, ahead of the leading Movistar Yamaha of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who continues to endure a tough weekend in Qatar.

Jack Miller rounds out the top ten after beating Maverick Vinales to the top spot in Q1. Vinales ended the Q2 session 12th fastest, behind Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone.

Rookies Franco Morbidelli and Hafizh Syahrin impressed to qualify 14th and 15th respectively for the Estrella Galicia Marc VDS and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha teams.

Britain’s Scott Redding will start his first race with Aprilia from 17th with compatriot Bradley Smith 20th for KTM.

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing