Zarco Takes Phillip Island Pole Before Late Crash

Johann Zarco - Photo Credit:
Johann Zarco - Photo Credit:

Johann Zarco
claimed his third pole position in four races at Phillip Island although he ended the session on the floor after a late crash on his Derbi. The Frenchman totally dominated the 40 minute qualifying session, holding pole position throughout, and looks more than capable of extending the 125cc championship battle to Malaysia next weekend.

The calm and sunny conditions of Friday gave way to unsettled, blustery weather for qualifying meaning Sandro Cortese's FP2 time was never under threat, but Zarco coped better than anyone to clock a 1:39.541 on his first run.

Championship leader Nicolas Terol slotted in behind in second, albeit six tenths adrift, but Zarco continued to pound round the Phillip Island track, regularly getting to within an ace of his previous pole time.

At the halfway stage, Terol moved to within a tenth of his title rival while Jonas Folger emerged from the midfield to grab third on a 1:40.223. The German was clearly thriving on the Aprilia RSA which he regained from teammate Danny Kent in Japan and nicked in front of Terol with five minutes to go.

His time of 1:39.610 was now a full four tenths shy of pole position as Zarco had lowered the target time to 1:39.207 moments earlier. As it turned out, his time from the early stages would've secured him the top spot but Sandro Cortese gave him a slight hurry up in the dying minutes, taking second from Folger in the process.

Zarco was clearly intent on improving yet again, even though there was little need, and he paid the price at the end of the session as he lost the front end of the Derbi into turn 11. This caught out Jakub Kornfeil who was following him on the track and the Czech rider was forced to bail through the gravel, leaving him shaken as he was helped away from the scene.

Although it wasn't the most glorious end to a session, Zarco's pole position was secured with German duo Cortese and Folger completing the front row, the latter achieving his best qualifying result of the year.

Nicolas Terol and Aspar teammate Hector Faubel will start slightly further back than normal in fourth and fifth while Efren Vazquez will complete the second row on the second Avant-AirAsia-Ajo Derbi. Danny Kent qualified an excellent seventh on the lower spec Red Bull Aprilia with Alberto Moncayo and Maverick Vinales alongside as the 16 year old continued his difficult debut in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, Luis Salom did a fine job to secure a place in the top ten after a crash earlier in the session but Harry Stafford couldn't recover from a crash of his own, dropping from a lofty 11th to an eventual 18th. Danny Webb will start 19th on the Mahindra while Taylor Mackenzie will line up in 28th for Phonica Racing.