Brno (Czech Republic), Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) took a shock pole at the Czech Grand Prix after a late crash from Fabio Quartararo on Saturday at Brno. His Petronas Yamaha team mate Franco Morbidelli will start P3, 0.311 seconds behind poll.
There may be some happy Ducati personnel in and around the Esponsorama Racing box, but it won’t be the same on either Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) or Jack Miller’s (Pramac Racing) side of the garages. The duo were unable to make it out of Q1 and will start from a disappointing P18 and P14 respectively – work to do on Sunday for the Italian and Australian.
A handful of minutes later the first laps in the second qualifying session came flying in and it was Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) who crossed the line first with a 1:56.6, with teammate Valentino Rossi pretty much matching the Spaniard’s time to slot into P2 ahead of Morbidelli.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro then blitzed the lot of them to go provisional P1 with a 1:56.1 but the KTM star wouldn’t stay at the summit long, with Quartararo setting the first 1:55 of the weekend – a 1:55.990.
And hooked onto the tailpipes of the Championship leader was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). The Spaniard ran slightly wide at Turn 13 but managed to get a good banker lap in, but his second flying lap was even better. Quartararo a couple of bike lengths ahead was on a fast lap but didn’t quite go faster than his first lap, but Aleix Espargaro did and put himself into provisional P2.A
Vinales was looking at getting onto the front row and the number 12 did exactly that on his next flyer, P3 for the man second in the Championship standings but there was going to be plenty to talk about in the upcoming final five minutes.A
Morbidelli, Rossi, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Zarco were all in close proximity, with the latter going faster than everyone. Halfway round, Morbidelli – spearheading the group – was under his teammates’ time by two tenths, but Zarco was three tenths up.
Coming across the line Morbidelli was unable to hold his advantage but Zarco did. The Frenchman flew to the top of the time screens to sit on an unreal provisional pole position, with Pol Espargaro going P2 with a stunning lap – however, that would later get chalked off due to the KTM rider setting it when passing yellow flags for Cal Crutchlow’s (LCR Honda Castrol) Turn 9 crash. However, it wasn’t done.
Quartararo was on a personal best lap but he was down by over a tenth of Zarco’s lap, 0.134 was the deficit halfway round.
This was going to be close but Quartararo needed to find something in the final quarter of the lap andrt pushing, Quartararo found himself sliding into the gravel. El Diablo was down at the notorious Turn 13, unhurt, which meant pole position was Zarcoa¿s.