Brno MotoGP: Zarco takes shock pole for Avintia Ducati

Johann Zarco took a shock MotoGP pole position for Avintia Ducati at the Czech Grand Prix after a late crash for Fabio Quartararo, while Andrea Dovizioso was only 18th.

Zarco put the KTM on the front row at Brno one year ago in wet conditions, but a week later had quit the Austrian marque amidst a miserable season on the RC16.

Signed by Ducati to ride for the underfunded Avintia squad on a year-old Ducati, Zarco stunned with his first pole since his Tech 3 days in 2018.

The early part of the session was topped by KTM’s Pol Espargaro with a 1m56.142s, though this was quickly beaten by Quartararo with the best lap of the weekend so far of a 1m55.990s.

Following the Petronas Yamaha rider on that lap, Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro pulled out a surprise lap just 0.084s adrift of Quartararo’s to go second provisionally with eight minutes remaining.

As the clock clicked into the final moment, the timing screen was ablaze with fastest sectors, with Zarco tucked in behind KTM’s Brad Binder.

Continuing to find time as the lap wore on, Zarco produced a 1m55.687s to steal pole away from Quartararo by 0.303 seconds.

Quartararo tried to take the position back, but crashed at the penultimate corner on his final effort and had to settle for second – a position he was promoted to after KTM’s Espargaro had his best lap scrubbed having set it under yellow flags.

It also promoted Franco Morbidelli – who crashed in FP4 - up to the front row on the sister Petronas Yamaha, while Aleix Espargaro scored Aprilia’s best-ever MotoGP qualifying result in fourth.

 Maverick Vinales will start from fifth, but was sent out for his final lap too late by Yamaha and couldn’t set another effort.

Pol Espargaro brings up the rear of the second row, with teammate Binder, the next-best Ducati of Danilo Petrucci and Suzuki’s Joan Mir making up row three.

Valentino Rossi was 10th on the second works team Yamaha ahead of Q1 graduate Alex Rins (Suzuki) and LCR’s Cal Crutchlow, who crashed at Turn 9 late on.

LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami was dealt late heartbreak when his 1m56.290s lap was cancelled after he exceeded track limits on the exit of Turn 12 late on in Q1.

The Japanese rider was relegated from a graduation place in second down to seventh in the session, meaning he’ll start 17th.

The biggest shock of the session came in the form of Andrea Dovizioso, who struggled on his factory Ducati and could only muster a 1m57.034s to go just 18th – some eight tenths away from a Q2 place in the worst qualifying performance of his MotoGP career.

Shuffled back by late improvements for Avintia’s Tito Rabat and Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona in 15th and 16th, Dovizioso was only quicker than Aprilia’s Bradley Smith – who crashed at Turn 8 – and the two factory Hondas of Stefan Bradl and Alex Marquez.

Compounding a tough weekend for Pramac following the knee injury for Francesco Bagnaia, Jack Miller missed the Q2 cut and will start 14th.

Czech GP - Qualifying 2 results (Q2):

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 France Johann Zarco
Ducati 1'55.687
2 France Fabio Quartararo
Yamaha 1'55.990 0.303
3 Italy Franco Morbidelli
Yamaha 1'55.998 0.311
4 Spain Aleix Espargaro
Aprilia 1'56.074 0.387
5 Spain Maverick Viñales
Yamaha 1'56.131 0.444
6 Spain Pol Espargaro
KTM 1'56.142 0.455
7 South Africa Brad Binder
KTM 1'56.299 0.612
8 Italy Danilo Petrucci
Ducati 1'56.454 0.767
9 Spain Joan Mir
Suzuki 1'56.512 0.825
10 Italy Valentino Rossi
Yamaha 1'56.515 0.828
11 Spain Alex Rins
Suzuki 1'56.571 0.884
12 United Kingdom Cal Crutchlow
Honda 1'56.797 1.110

Q1 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Spain Alex Rins
Suzuki 1'56.230
2 South Africa Brad Binder
KTM 1'56.291 0.061
3 Portugal Miguel Oliveira
KTM 1'56.328 0.098
4 Australia Jack Miller
Ducati 1'56.352 0.122
5 Spain Tito Rabat
Ducati 1'56.695 0.465
6 Spain Iker Lecuona
KTM 1'56.764 0.534
7 Japan Takaaki Nakagami
Honda 1'56.822 0.592
8 Italy Andrea Dovizioso
Ducati 1'57.034 0.804
9 United Kingdom Bradley Smith
Aprilia 1'57.438 1.208
10 Germany Stefan Bradl
Honda 1'57.573 1.343
11 Spain Alex Marquez
Honda 1'57.606 1.376
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