Zarco snatches pole with qualifying record
MOTOGP Qatar Grand Prix - Qualifying

Zarco snatches pole with qualifying record

Tech3 Yamaha's Johann Zarco took pole position for the opening round of the 2018 MotoGP season at Qatar, establishing a new lap record by almost a quarter of a second.

Zarco's best laptime of 1m53.680s beat Jorge Lorenzo's existing record set in 2008 by 0.247 seconds, and gave him his third premier class pole by 0.202s ahead of reigning champion Marc Marquez's Honda.

Marquez was quickest on the first runs in the second part of qualifying and led on a 1m54.368s, but was then knocked off the top spot by Andrea Dovizioso, who set a 1m54.074s on his works Ducati.

Dovizioso looked good for pole heading into the final stages, but was shunted down to fifth in the final order amid a late flurry of improvements led by Zarco and Marquez.

Danilo Petrucci set a lap just 0.005s slower than Marquez to take the final spot on the front row and end up the best of the Ducati runners on his Pramac-run GP18, while LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow edged out Dovizioso for fourth by two thousandths.

Alex Rins completed the second row on the best of the Suzukis, ahead of Dani Pedrosa's Honda and Valentino Rossi, who was seven tenths off the pace on the quicker of the two works Yamahas.

His team-mate Maverick Vinales was slowest of all in Q2 and the only rider not to get within a second of Zarco.

He will start 12th, behind the Ducati of Lorenzo, Jack Miller on the second Pramac machine and Andrea Iannone's Suzuki.

While Vinales was the highest-profile rider having to make his way through Q1, his benchmark lap of 1m54.637s was beaten in the dying stages of the session by Miller.

The Australian had already established himself in second when he logged a time just 0.003s faster than Vinales at the chequered flag.

Just missing out on advancing to Q2 was Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro, who will head up the fifth row in front of leading rookie Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS Honda) and Hafizh Syharin on the second Tech3 Yamaha.

Scott Redding will make his debut for Aprilia starting 18th, one place behind Avintia Ducati's Tito Rabat.

Both KTM riders suffered problems, with Bradley Smith 20th after his RC16 stopped on the way out of the pits and Pol Espargaro 22nd after encountering similar issues.

LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami could do no better than 23rd after a crash in FP4 just before qualifying.

Related news

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso emerged victorious in a stop-start, attrition-heavy 2018 MotoGP season finale at a wet Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally Australia, while crashes for Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak helped seal a sixth World Rally Championship title for M-Sport Ford's Sebastien Ogier.

Neuville retires, Ogier or Tanak for WRC title

Neuville retires, Ogier or Tanak for WRC title

Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville is officially out of the running for the World Rally Championship drivers' title, after crashing out of the first stage of the final loop.

Ogier in driving seat as Neuville's Australia woes continue

Ogier in driving seat as Neuville's Australia woes continue

Sebastien Ogier was in pole position to take a sixth consecutive world rally championship title after finishing the second day of Rally Australia with a lead of more than 50 seconds over his main challenger Thierry Neuville on Saturday.

Advantage Ogier as Neuville suffers double blow

Advantage Ogier as Neuville suffers double blow

Belgian Thierry Neuville's hopes of winning a maiden world title at Rally Australia this weekend suffered a hammer blow after a calamitous sixth stage on the opening day, when he damaged his car landing from a jump and then stalled in a chicane.

Vinales scores pole for MotoGP finale

Vinales scores pole for MotoGP finale

Yamaha MotoGP rider Maverick Vinales fought through Q1 to take pole position in a scintillating final qualifying session of the 2018 season in Valencia.

Hamilton wins in Brazil after Verstappen punted out of lead

Hamilton wins in Brazil after Verstappen punted out of lead

Lewis Hamilton won an action-packed Brazilian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen crashed out of the lead following a collision with a lapped backmarker.

Hamilton takes pole in Brazil as Vettel escapes penalty

Hamilton takes pole in Brazil as Vettel escapes penalty

Newly-crowned champion Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position by 0.093s in a tight qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Vettel beats Hamilton to fastest time in final practice in Brazil

Vettel beats Hamilton to fastest time in final practice in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel outpaced Lewis Hamilton to top the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix with a new track record.

RELATED NEWS

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale
Valencia Grand Prix

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso emerged victorious in a stop-start, attrition-heavy 2018 MotoGP season finale at a wet Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier
Rally Australia

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally Australia, while crashes for Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak helped seal a sixth World Rally Championship title for M-Sport Ford's Sebastien Ogier.

Neuville retires, Ogier or Tanak for WRC title
Rally Australia

Neuville retires, Ogier or Tanak for WRC title

Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville is officially out of the running for the World Rally Championship drivers' title, after crashing out of the first stage of the final loop.

Ogier in driving seat as Neuville's Australia woes continue
Rally Australia

Ogier in driving seat as Neuville's Australia woes continue

Sebastien Ogier was in pole position to take a sixth consecutive world rally championship title after finishing the second day of Rally Australia with a lead of more than 50 seconds over his main challenger Thierry Neuville on Saturday.

Advantage Ogier as Neuville suffers double blow
Rally Australia

Advantage Ogier as Neuville suffers double blow

Belgian Thierry Neuville's hopes of winning a maiden world title at Rally Australia this weekend suffered a hammer blow after a calamitous sixth stage on the opening day, when he damaged his car landing from a jump and then stalled in a chicane.

Vinales scores pole for MotoGP finale
Valencia Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vinales scores pole for MotoGP finale

Yamaha MotoGP rider Maverick Vinales fought through Q1 to take pole position in a scintillating final qualifying session of the 2018 season in Valencia.

Hamilton wins in Brazil after Verstappen punted out of lead
Brazilian Grand Prix

Hamilton wins in Brazil after Verstappen punted out of lead

Lewis Hamilton won an action-packed Brazilian Grand Prix after Max Verstappen crashed out of the lead following a collision with a lapped backmarker.

Hamilton takes pole in Brazil as Vettel escapes penalty
Brazilian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Hamilton takes pole in Brazil as Vettel escapes penalty

Newly-crowned champion Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position by 0.093s in a tight qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Vettel beats Hamilton to fastest time in final practice in Brazil
Brazilian Grand Prix - FP3

Vettel beats Hamilton to fastest time in final practice in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel outpaced Lewis Hamilton to top the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix with a new track record.