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Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took a stunning pole position in Japan, with fellow dark horse Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) for company in second as the two Independent Team riders prepare to head the grid. With the weather, Zarco says it is an opportunity to be taken - and take it he did.
Zarco's pole-winning lap
“I was happy to have all the practices in the wet to be able to improve,” says the Frenchman. “And I knew some riders could struggle this weekend so it was an opportunity. If it had been five minutes later it would have been on slicks, but it wasn’t five minutes later.”
It wasn’t, and the Tech 3 rider made the most of the opportunity on the drying track, switching to the extra soft rear and pushing to the limit on his final lap – able to take pole by three tenths. And it’s not the first time the two-time World Champion has shown his prowess with wet tyres on a drying track, having taken Moto2™ pole at Sepang in 2016 by a jaw-dropping margin of two seconds.
Zarco: "We have a good feeling on a wet track"
Petrucci, the man denied of pole once more, similarly used the extra soft tyre at the end of the session, and similarly moved up the timesheets.
“On the first lap out, I looked at the track but in some parts it still had a lot of water so I was a bit scared of using slicks,” explains the Italian. “So I said I would try with two tyres – one soft and one extra soft on the last lap, and it worked. Johann did a really good lap but I’m really happy, this was unexpected although I was in the top five all weekend.”
Petrucci: "An unexpected first row!"
Both now get some of the best seats in the house should the race be wet, with starting in front a possible key advantage when it comes to visibility – something Petrucci picked out: “If there’s a lot of water, starting in front could be a big advantage. I didn’t feel the same confidence as normal in the wet, but I think I can be competitive over the race.”
Zarco likewise expects and hopes to be competitive, saying he will try to stay in front – and dream about the podium.
Highlights: Zarco storms to surprise pole at Motegi
1 year ago