Johann Zarco sent the French crowd into ecstasy by claiming pole position for his home Grand Prix at Le Mans. The home favourite set the fastest ever two-wheeled lap of the Bugatti circuit to edge out world champion Marc Marquez, setting the scene for a mouth-watering battle between the two tomorrow.
In a dramatic weekend littered with crashes across all classes, Q1 brought more of the same with Cal Crutchlow suffering a heavy high-side exiting Garage Vert. The Briton was chasing a spot in the pole position shoot-out but the accident launched him into the air before a painful landing on his hip, ending his session and potentially his weekend.
All eyes were focused on Zarco once Q2 got underway and the Frenchman didn’t disappoint, moving straight into provisional pole with his first lap of the session. Danilo Petrucci, the pacesetter in Q1, emerged as a shock contender with a 1:31.658 but Zarco regained top spot before pitting for a change of tyres, setting a 1:31.645.
The times continued to tumble on the second runs, Jorge Lorenzo chopping a tenth off the benchmark time on his Ducati, but the session would boil down to a head-to-head between the home favourite and the defending champion. Marquez struck the next blow, clocking a 1:31.315, but the final word would go to Zarco with a blistering 1:31.185 earning him a fourth career pole in the premier class.
Petrucci maintained third ahead of Andrea Iannone’s Suzuki, ensuring four different manufacturers will line up in the top four grid slots. Andrea Dovizioso grabbed fifth for Ducati, edging out team-mate Lorenzo, with Jack Miller seventh on the second Pramac machine. Movistar Yamaha’s problems continue with Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi eighth and ninth respectively while Dani Pedrosa took tenth on the grid after navigating his way through Q1.
2018 HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France: (Qualifying)
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