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#ICYMI: #MotoGP rookie Zarco thrilled at maiden pole in Assen

2017-06-25 08:18

Image: Instagram

Assen, Netherlands - Yamaha Tech3's French Moto GP rookie Johann Zarco edged four-time champion Marc Marquez in final qualifying to claim his maiden MotoGP pole on Saturday for the Dutch Grand Prix in Assen.

Honda's Marquez and Ducati's Danilo Petrucci will keep Zarco company on the front row with world championship leader Maverick Vinales only managing to make the fourth row.

First French rider on pole in 15 years

Reigning Moto2 titleholder Zarco, at only his eighth attempt, becomes the first Frenchman since Olivier Jacque in Germany 15 years ago to set off from pole in the world championship's top category.

"It's a fantastic feeling to see your name at the top of the sheet times," beamed Zarco.

"I'm thrilled and I know that I must make the most of this opportunity to make the podium. That's my goal."

The 26-year-old coped best with a wet circuit and windy conditions to shade Marquez by .065sec and Petrucci by .385s.

Marquez said: "Today was one of those days when you have to take some risks because you 'need' to be there.

"Toward the end of the session, a dry line started to form and we were able to be faster and faster

"At the very end I missed the chance to do another lap when I took the flag by a couple of seconds. But okay, we're on the front row, which was the main target for today."

Rossi said he was disappointed at missing out on the front row, but was heartened by how competitive his bike had been adding: "It's very important for the race to start from within the top-5.

"I'm in fourth and that's a good place and it was also a positive day because I was always competitive from this morning."

The veteran Italian, who was treated in hospital last month for chest and stomach injuries suffered in a training crash, said he felt "good with the bike".

He suggested the weather could play a key factor in the race outcome

"Here in Assen it's always a big surprise. We hope for either a full dry or a full wet race."

Vinales had a qualifying experience to forget, his 11th spot a full 2.125s adrift of the surprise pole-sitter all the more disappointing as he posted the fastest time in practice.

But at least the Spaniard made it through to second qualifying, unlike three time former MotoGP titleholder Jorge Lorenzo who trailed in 21st to leave him languishing on the penultimate row on Sunday's grid.

In the race for the 2017 world championship Vinales leads on 111 points from Dovizioso (104) and Marquez (88).

Zarco, sixth with 75 points, is seeking to become the first French MotoGP winner since Regis Laconi in 1999, with none of his fellow countrymen ever wearing the MotoGP crown.

In Zarco's former hunting ground Moto2, pole was claimed by title leader Franco Morbidelli, who will start alongside fellow Kalex teammates Takaaki Nakagami and Thomas Luthi joining him on the front row.

Jorge Martin is on pole in Moto3, the Spaniard joined by home hope Bo Bendsneyder and Nicolo Bulega at the head of the grid.

Leading grid positions for Sunday's Dutch MotoGP:

1st row

1 Johann Zarco (FRA/Yamaha Tech3) 1min 46.141sec, 2. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) at 0.065sec, 3. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ducati Pramac) 0.385

2nd row

4. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 0.564, 5. Scott Redding (GBR/Ducati Pramac) 1.433, 6. Jonas Folger (GER/Yamaha Tech3) 1.522

3rd row

7. Alvaro Bautista (ESP/Ducati Aspar) 1.671, 8. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/LCR Honda) 1.901, 9. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 1.938

4th row

10. Sam Lowes (GBR/Aprilia Gresini) 1.987, 11. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 2.125, 12. Dani Pedrosa (ESP/Honda) 3.482

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