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Brno MotoGP: Zarco takes shock pole for Avintia Ducati

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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
Brno MotoGP: Morbidelli tops FP3, Dovizioso to Q1

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About this article

Series MotoGP
Event Czech GP
Drivers Johann Zarco
Teams Avintia Racing
Author Lewis Duncan