Zarco puts year-old Ducati on pole at Brno

Johann Zarco

Johann Zarco has put his year-old Esponsorama Ducati on pole position for the Czech MotoGP while Fabio Quartararo was second-quickest in qualifying despite a late crash.

Quartararo was still half a threat to take top spot away from his fellow Frenchman when he lost the front end of his Petronas SRT Yamaha at the penultimate corner with the chequered flag out.

The championship leader had still done enough by then to put #20 on the middle of the front row at Brno, next to his team-mate, Franco Morbidelli.

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) set the second-fastest time of the session only for it to be deleted given it was set with yellow flags out, most likely for a Cal Crutchlow (Castrol LCR Honda) spill.

He will instead start sixth, behind Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha).

Jack Miller missed out on Qualifying 2 altogether and is set to start from 14th on his Pramac Ducati, while factory counterpart Andrea Dovizioso is four positions worse off again.

Quartararo started off with a 1:55.990s, the fastest lap of the weekend to that point, while Aleix Espargaro was second at the end of the first runs having set a 1:56.074s on his second flyer while following the #20 Yamaha.

That unlikely effort knocked brother Pol Espargaro back to third in the lull, ahead of the other Yamaha pilots, namely Viñales, Morbidelli, and Valentino Rossi, respectively.

Viñales went for a two-stop strategy and edged up to third spot with a 1:56.131s on his second run but would not have enough time to complete a lap on his third.

He lost a spot when Morbidelli rode his Yamaha into second with a 1:55.998s before both the SRT riders were usurped by Zarco’s 1:55.687s on his GP19.

Quartararo had just enough time to start one last flyer before the chequered flag and was 0.191s slower than Zarco to the third sector before crashing.

As such, it was Zarco topping Q2 by just over three tenths of a second, ahead of Quartararo and Morbidelli.

Aleix Espargaro still ended up a surprise fourth, from Viñales and Pol Espargaro, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) coming from Qualifying 1 to claim seventh.

Factory rider Danilo Petrucci was second of the Ducati contingent in eighth spot, with Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) also making Row 3.

Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) was shuffled back to 10th, Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) went the long way to qualify 11th, and Crutchlow wound up 12th.

The latter’s team-mate, Takaaki Nakagami, was on top of Qualifying 1 with a 1:56.290s when word came through after the chequered flag had been unfurled that his fastest lap had been deleted for a breach of track limits.

The penalty put Binder into the top two for the session and the #30 Idemitsu LCR Honda entry back to 17th all told.

Miller was in the cut at the end of the first runs but could not improve on his initial 1:56.352s on his second run and fell to 14th position on the grid.

The Ducati Team’s Dovizioso never looked like progressing and would end up almost three quarters of a second away from the top two in the stanza.

The Repsol Hondas will bring up the rear of what is a 21-bike field after the withdrawal of Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati), with Marc Marquez’s injury replacement in Stefan Bradl edging Alex Marquez.

Race start is due on Sunday at 22:00 AEST, with 21 laps the journey.

Qualifying: Czech MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Gap 1st/Prev
1 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Esponsorama Racing Ducati 1:55.687  
2 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 1:55.990 0.303 / 0.303
3 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 1:55.998 0.311 / 0.008
4 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1:56.074 0.387 / 0.076
5 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:56.131 0.444 / 0.057
6 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:56.142 0.455 / 0.011
7 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:56.299 0.612 / 0.157
8 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1:56.454 0.767 / 0.155
9 36 Joan MIR ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:56.512 0.825 / 0.058
10 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:56.515 0.828 / 0.003
11 42 Alex RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:56.571 0.884 / 0.056
12 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 1:56.797 1.110 / 0.226
13 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM Q1 / Q1 Q1 / Q1
14 43 Jack MILLER AUS Pramac Racing Ducati Q1 / 0.024 Q1 / 0.024
15 53 Tito RABAT ESP Esponsorama Racing Ducati Q1 / 0.343 Q1 / 0.343
16 27 Iker LECUONA ESP Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM Q1 / 0.069 Q1 / 0.069
17 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda Q1 / 0.058 Q1 / 0.058
18 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati Q1 / 0.212 Q1 / 0.212
19 38 Bradley SMITH GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia Q1 / 0.404 Q1 / 0.404
20 6 Stefan BRADL GER Repsol Honda Team Honda Q1 / 0.135 Q1 / 0.135
21 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda Q1 / 0.033 Q1 / 0.033

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