Fifth pole position and new circuit record for Johann Zarco


Ajo Motorsport rider takes second consecutive pole position in Japan.

The second day of the Japanese Grand Prix concluded in the best possible way for Johann Zarco, who took his latest pole position. It marks the fifth time this season the Frenchman will start from the front of the grid, and the second consecutive year that he will do so at Twin Ring Motegi. In addition, the Ajo Motorsport rider set a new circuit record along the way, breaking the 1:49 barrier.

Zarco needed just six laps to improve his time from Friday in FP3. On his first stint, the Ajo Motorsport rider set his best lap times, riding for the first time this weekend in the 1:50s. His eighth lap of 1:50.823 earned him third place, with his race pace very positive.

A great qualifying session performance saw Zarco up at the front from the start. However, it was on his last stint that the reigning World Championship accomplished the seemingly impossible achievement of breaking into the 1:49s. After a first attempt in which he only missed out on the last sector, on the next lap he stopped the clock at 1:49.961 for a new circuit record. After the chequered flag had already been shown, the Frenchman suffered a light crash at Turn 3.

Tomorrow, starting at 12:20pm local time, Zarco will look to repeat last year’s win from pole at the Japanese GP. A return to the podium after four races away would also be a good result for the French star.

Results – Qualifying Practice
1. Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) 1:49.961
2. Thomas Luthi (Kalex) 1:50.028 +0.067
3. Franco Morbidelli (Kalex) 1:50.317 +0.356
4. Sam Lowes (Kalex) 1:50.333 +0.372
5. Sandro Cortese (Kalex) 1:50.380 +0.419


“I’m very happy. On my last time across the line I didn’t see the flag, because I was concentrating on my bike. Unfortunately I made a mistake at the end, but it was not a problem because I already had the pole position in the bag. The entire qualifying session was very good for the whole team. The first stint was long and at a good pace, and the last time out with new tyres I was able to set a circuit record. We have a very good pace and are focused on having a good race. The strategy for tomorrow is to have the pace and confidence to win, but always use our heads. Getting on the podium, as long as I’m ahead of Rins, would also be good.”