Johann Zarco takes Silverstone pole in style

Silverstone (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Ducati’s French rider Johann Zarco clocked a new track record to grab pole for the British MotoGP in qualifying at Silverstone on Saturday.

Zarco, who rides for Ducati’s satellite Pramac team, is joined on the front row for Sunday’s race by Maverick Vinales of Aprilia and Jack Miller on a factory Ducati.

World champion and series leader Fabio Quartararo took fourth on the grid for this 12th round of the 20-race season.

Zarco claimed his second prime grid position of the season and eighth in MotoGP in style with a lap of 1min 57.767s to smash the former track record of 1min 58.168 set by the absent Marc Marquez.

Zarco has given himself every chance to register his first win in the top category.

Quartararo has for company on the second row the Ducati of Francesco Bagnaia and Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia.

This was a stoic performance from Espargaro who competed in qualifying despite suffering a heavy fall during practice earlier in the day.

The 33-year-old, who had just set the fastest time in the third practice session, flew off his bike entering a fast corner on the Silverstone circuit.

Medics rushed to his aid, moving him on to a stretcher. But in spite of being visibly stunned by the impact, Espargaro was able to walk to the medical centre, albeit with support on either side.

He sits 21 points behind Yamaha’s world championship leader Quartararo heading into this first race since the mid-summer break, with Zarco third, a further 37 points adrift.

Quartararo won here last year and is trying to break a statistical oddity of the British MotoGP.

No one has won the race twice in a row since Jorge Lorenzo in 2012 and 2013, a total of seven races because the 2018 (heavy rain) and 2020 (Covid-19) events were cancelled.