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Zarco: From gravel trap to pole position at #QatarGP

Lap-record breaking Frenchman hopeful for a podium fight

Putting on a stunning show under the floodlights the Losail International Circuit, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) secured pole position with a sensational lap time of 1.53.680, set in the closing seconds of Saturday’s on track action.

Zarco's pole-winning lap

Becoming the first French rider since 1954 to start a season from pole position, it didn’t come easy for Zarco at the Grand Prix of Qatar following a crash in FP4, just before starting the fight in Q2. However he didn’t let this phase him and he put on a stunning performance in his second stint to stun his rivals to the line, beating the 2008 Lap Record held by Jorge Lorenzo in the process.

“I’m so happy,” beamed Zarco. “In qualifying I was feeling good, when I used the first tyre it gave me some reference, which then gave me some confidence after the crash. On the second tyre I started well but had some guys in front, so I only had one lap. I tried to push and you can I see that I set the new lap record! I’m so happy for this because it was a great start to the season, a good place to have a podium or victory. Our pace at the moment isn’t the best to challenge for the win, but at least from pole I can have a chance.”

How was the lap record beaten in Losail?

With some doubt over the race pace of his YZR-M1, Zarco will be looking closely at how he can manage his tyres to give him the best possible chance for a podium fight throughout the scheduled 22 laps. With experience of leading GP races in the past, he will draw on this ahead of Sunday’s thriller: “I have no idea about tomorrow, I hope to stay with the top guys, but if I can lead it will be good because I can run my own lines and maybe try to make a gap. Just staying at the front like in Valencia would be a good way to do the 22 laps, and then when the tyre drops off maybe my opponents will be in the same place and I can fight. Pole position is a good place to start so I will try to stay with the top guys.”

Thinking back to his MotoGP™ debut in Qatar last season, which saw Zarco lead the opening six laps and set the fastest lap before crashing out, it will be a big day for the Frenchman. “It’s supposed to be very cold tomorrow but we have a lot of information from the test, so we can sleep well tonight.”

Watch how Zarco and his rivals take on the Losail International Circuit, as he lines up for his third MotoGP™ pole position start, all with the MotoGP™ VideoPass from 19.00LT (+3 GMT).