May 19, 2018 / 4:37 PM / 7 months ago

Motorcycling - Zarco takes home pole for French MotoGP

Motorcycling - MotoGP - French Grand Prix - Bugatti Circuit, Le Mans, France - May 19, 2018 Yamaha's Johann Zarco celebrates after qualifying REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

LE MANS, France (Reuters) - Johann Zarco took pole position for his home French Grand Prix at Le Mans in record time on Saturday with MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez qualifying alongside him in second place.

The Tech3 Yamaha rider produced a sensational lap of one minute 31.185 seconds, the fastest ever by a MotoGP rider around the Bugatti circuit, with Honda’s reigning champion Marquez 0.108 slower.

Italian Danilo Petrucci completed the front row for the Pramac Ducati team.

Marquez and Zarco, a double Moto2 champion and 2017 MotoGP rookie of the year, are first and second in the championship after four rounds with the Spaniard 12 points clear.

The pole was Zarco’s second of the season, after the opener in Qatar, and fourth in the top category.

He was also the first Frenchman on pole on home asphalt since Christian Sarron at Le Castellet in 1988, and he did it with a French team.

“It feels great and it’s very emotional for me. I didn’t expect to have these emotions already during qualifying here,” said Zarco. “For sure, I wanted to be fast, but when I saw the 31.185 on the dashboard I was surprised myself.”

Factory Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo qualified fifth and sixth with Italian Andrea Iannone fourth on a Suzuki. Italian great Valentino Rossi qualified ninth.

Britain’s Cal Crutchlow, a race winner in Argentina last month, had a big crash and was taken to hospital for checks. The LCR Honda rider will start 13th if fit to compete.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis

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