News 14 Oct 2017

Zarco splashes to second MotoGP pole position at Motegi

Nakagami quickest in Moto2 at home, as Bulega takes Moto3 top spot.

Source: Supplied.

Rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) shocked for a last-minute pole position in the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, his second in the permier class.

Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) took second as another to navigate the wet, but drying track conditions well, with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) completing the front row after gambling on slicks at the end of the session.

With a dry line beginning to appear by the start of Q2, it was the KTMs of Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith moving through to join the top 10 in the shootout and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) sending immediate shock-waves through the field as he headed out on slicks straight away.

That would prove the wrong decision, and the nine-time world champion was then forced back in to switch. Marquez, meanwhile, was 1.6 seconds clear at the top when he decided to try slicks, despite a moment on the wet tyres on what would prove his fastest lap.

That left a target on P1 for many in the field still pushing hard on wets, with Zarco best able to take the challenge to the reigning champion and Petrucci then taking second, with Marquez therefore locking out the front row.

Heading the second row and fulfilling his Friday target is Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), who just missed out on lining up further forward in the latter stages of his last lap, with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) taking fifth on his final push and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) locking out row two.

The KTMs were next up, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) initially taking a provisional front row before times began to further tumble, and by the flag it was teammate Bradley Smith who just pipped the Spaniard. The Austrian factory machines will start seventh and eighth.

Title-challenger Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had a more difficult session and ended Q2 in P9, with Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone taking 10th and 11th. Rossi, after his early gamble on slicks, lines up in P12.

After going third fastest in Q1, Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) will line-up behind Rossi and just ahead of the second factory Yamaha Maverick Viñales, who had a tough Saturday. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) starts 15th, after missing out on Q1 following a moment at the final corner on his last lap.

Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) will start from pole for his home GP after an incredible final shootout, snatching the honour from Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) on his final push as conditions went from marginal to slicks within the session.

The Japanese rider had been well outside the top 20 in the initial stages but bounced back in style. Marquez starts from P2 after recovering from an early throttle problem, ahead of Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), as his teammate Remy Gardner starts 19th.

Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) has taken a stunning Moto3 pole position ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0). Australian first-timer Tom Toparis (Cube Racing) got more wet mileage on his KTM, making the grid in 31st following the session.