Johann Zarco’s dream weekend continued with pole position in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. The Frenchman was crowned champion yesterday following the withdrawal of Tito Rabat and the feel-good factor remained this afternoon as he saw off Thomas Luthi for pole.
For much of the session, pole position only looked to be going in one direction as Zarco dominated, embarking on a private battle against the stopwatch with no riders able to knock him off the top of the leaderboard. With six minutes remaining, Luthi changed that though with the fastest ever Moto2 lap of Motegi, forcing the newly crowned champion to respond.
Respond was exactly what he did though with the Ajo rider finding a quarter of a second on his previous best, securing his seventh pole position of the year with Luthi a season’s best of second. Jonas Folger will complete the front row in third while Sam Lowes and Alex Rins start fourth and fifth respectively after setting identical times for the second time this season. Unlike on the previous occasion, the tiebreak went in the Briton’s favour after his second fastest lap was quicker, ensuring he will start from the front of row two.
Hafizh Syahrin qualified a superb sixth ahead of home favourite Takaaki Nakagami while Axel Pons, Sandro Cortese and Lorenzo Baldassarri completed the top ten.