Johann Zarco smashed the ten-year-old Losail lap record to take pole position for the opening round of the 2018 MotoGP season. The Frenchman produced the fastest ever two-wheeled lap in Qatar to edge out reigning champion Marc Marquez with Danilo Petrucci the leading Ducati rider in third.
Ducati were considered the favourites heading into qualifying after Andrea Dovizioso had topped three of the four practice sessions prior to Q2. True to form, the Italian leapt straight to the top of the leaderboard on his opening run, setting a 1:54.074, but Dovizioso wouldn’t go any quicker in the remainder of the session, something that would ultimately cost him.
The second runs commenced with Jorge Lorenzo, lying twelfth, the first to hit the race-track and the Spaniard made a substantial improvement to go third. A pack of riders were all circulating together further behind, led by Zarco, and the Frenchman soon deprived Lorenzo of his pole-position record, clocking a 1:53.680 to go three tenths faster than the five-times champion went here ten years ago, securing pole position into the bargain.
Marquez followed in the Frenchman’s slipstream to take second while Petrucci also went inside the existing pole position record to grab third. Cal Crutchlow will line up an excellent fourth for LCR Honda ahead of Dovizioso with Suzuki’s Alex Rins completing the second row after pipping Dani Pedrosa.
Valentino Rossi starts eighth on the first Movistar Yamaha after relegating Lorenzo all the way back to ninth while Jack Miller emerged out of Q1 to claim a top ten spot. Maverick Vinales also had to navigate his way through the first session but the 2017 polesitter couldn’t improve on twelfth, just behind Andrea Iannone.
2018 Grand Prix of Qatar: (Qualifying Result)
|1||5. Johann Zarco||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||1:53.680||Q2|
|2||93. Marc Marquez||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:53.882||Q2|
|3||9. Danilo Petrucci||Ducati||Alma Pramac Racing||1:53.887||Q2|
|4||35. Cal Crutchlow||Honda||LCR Honda Castrol||1:54.072||Q2|
|5||4. Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||Ducati Team||1:54.074||Q2|
|6||42. Alex Rins||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||1:54.339||Q2|
|7||26. Dani Pedrosa||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:54.368||Q2|
|8||46. Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||1:54.389||Q2|
|9||99. Jorge Lorenzo||Ducati||Ducati Team||1:54.431||Q2|
|10||43. Jack Miller||Ducati||Alma Pramac Racing||1:54.449||Q2|
|11||29. Andrea Iannone||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||1:54.619||Q2|
|12||25. Maverick Vinales||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||1:54.707||Q2|
|13||41. Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||1:55.140||Q1|
|14||21. Franco Morbidelli||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:55.169||Q1|
|15||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||1:55.258||Q1|
|16||53. Tito Rabat||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||1:55.273||Q1|
|17||45. Scott Redding||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||1:55.380||Q1|
|18||12. Thomas Luthi||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:55.381||Q1|
|19||17. Karel Abraham||Ducati||Angel Nieto Team||1:55.392||Q1|
|20||38. Bradley Smith||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1:55.553||Q1|
|21||19. Alvaro Bautista||Ducati||Angel Nieto Team||1:55.638||Q1|
|22||44. Pol Espargaro||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1:55.706||Q1|
|23||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Honda||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||1:56.401||Q1|
|24||10. Xavier Simeon||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||1:56.545||Q1|