Johann Zarco beats Marc Marquez to grab Le Mans pole
MOTOGP French Grand Prix

Johann Zarco beats Marc Marquez to grab Le Mans pole

Tech3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco will start his home MotoGP race in France from pole after beating Marc Marquez in a frenetic qualifying session at Le Mans.

A last-ditch lap of 1m31.185s - a new MotoGP track record around the Bugatti circuit - was enough for Zarco to claim his second pole of the season and the fourth of his fledgling premier class career.

The Frenchman led the opening runs with a time of 1m31.645s, putting him within a whisker of Maverick Vinales' FP3 benchmark - which itself had been a new MotoGP track record until it was beaten by several riders in qualifying.

Jorge Lorenzo was the first rider to dip below that effort with a 1m31.590s, before Marquez posted a 1m31.315s moments later to snatch top spot away from the Ducati rider.

But Zarco then managed to go 0.130 seconds faster on his final lap aboard his two-year-old Yamaha, with Honda man Marquez only managing a marginal improvement on his last tour and ending up a tenth down.

First qualifying pacesetter Danilo Petrucci (Pramac) surged to third place on the best of the Ducatis, qualifying 0.196s slower than Zarco, ahead of lead Suzuki rider Andrea Iannone.

Factory Ducati pair Andrea Dovizioso and Lorenzo will complete the second row in front of another Ducati rider, Jack Miller on Pramac's year-old machine.

Works Yamaha duo Vinales and Valentino Rossi only managed eighth and ninth respectively, neither getting within half a second of Zarco.

Completing the Q2 order were Dani Pedrosa, the second rider to progress from Q1, Tito Rabat (Avintia Ducati) and Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro, who crashed at the Dunlop chicane.

The opening Q1 session ended on a sour note when Cal Crutchlow suffered a huge high-side crash at the Garage Vert double right-hander.

The LCR rider was flung from his bike and high into the air as his Honda went sideways exiting the corner, before he landed awkwardly on his back. He was taken away on a stretcher, but showed the crowd a thumbs-up before he was placed in the back of an ambulance.

Crutchlow had been third-fastest before his crash, meaning he will start Sunday's race from 13th - if he is deemed fit to compete - ahead of Tech3's Hafizh Syahrin and the second Suzuki of Alex Rins.

The two KTMs only managed 17th and 18th, with Bradley Smith leading Pol Espargaro - who crashed along with both Aspar Ducati men Alvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham.

Scott Redding's miserable weekend continued as he qualified 22nd on the second Aprilia.

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