Johann Zarco takes first pole of 2016 for Catalan GP


Ajo Motorsport rider takes qualifying top spot for race he won from pole position last season.

The second day of the Catalan Grand Prix saw the Moto2 grid decided, with Johann Zarco setting the fastest time. Second in a FP3 used to adjust to modifications to the track -following the tragic accident yesterday involving Luis Salom- Zarco repeated his pole position from 2015 at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit.

As a result of the changes to the track layout in the interests of rider safety, the last free practice session of the weekend was extended to 55 minutes. Reigning World Champion Zarco was the fastest rider from the beginning of the session, and later improved his times with used tyres. However, his best lap was his 23rd of FP3, a 1:49.601 time only surpassed by 0.022s.

Zarco again started strong in the qualifying session. On his second stint, with 19 minutes remaining, the Ajo Motorsport rider stopped the clock at 1:49.179. The time remained unbeaten when the chequered flag fell, and gave him pole position at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit for the second consecutive year.

The Frenchman will be aiming for victory in tomorrow’s race, which starts at 12:20pm local time. In addition to winning last season’s Catalan GP, Zarco also won the last round of the Moto2 series in Italy a fortnight ago.

Results (Qualifying practice)
1. Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) 1:49.179
2. Alex Rins (Kalex) 1:49.214 +0.035
3. Thomas Luthi (Kalex) 1:49.472 +0.293
4. Takaaki Nakagami (Kalex) 1:49.606 +0.427
5. Sam Lowes (Kalex) 1:49.619 +0.440

“This is almost my home Grand Prix. I live closer to here than I do to Le Mans, and many of my friends and family come here because it is nearer to them. I love this circuit and throughout the weekend I have felt good, with a good pace from Friday. This morning we had to find some new references after the layout was changed, and Alex Rins showed that he is very strong. He went very well on the first few laps, but then I was able to improve and kept pole position -my first of this year. I am very happy about that, because the goal was to get on the front row. I think I have a good pace and tomorrow I’ll try to keep it up. I will fight my hardest and see if I can win. We had a very sad moment this weekend and I want to honour Luis Salom and dedicate a victory to him. He was a good guy and I knew him from the Red Bull Rookies Cup in 2007; since then we competed in the same competitions for many years, all the way through Moto2. Many times we battled together during races and it is very strange what happened. When I talk about what happened I want to cry, as there is so much emotion, but it is part of the job. All of us have to be as focused as possible to try to control everything and avoid these types of accidents, but sometimes they happen. Every rider is very sad.”