Johann Zarco placed his Pramac Ducati on the front row for the second consecutive race at Barcelona this afternoon after utilising the services of KTM’s Brad Binder.
Taking a leaf out of the Marc Marquez playbook, the Frenchman was on the wheels of the South African in the pair’s final flying effort of Q2 before diving down the inside into turn 10. The move resulted in Binder being forced wide and having to sit up, before eventually crossing the line in eighth place. He had executed a similar strategy during yesterday’s second free practice, with Fabio Quartararo the target, on his way to setting Friday’s fastest time and with Pecco Bagnaia in Mugello qualifying.
“A good session for the qualifying” Zarco said from Parc Ferme. before explaining his game plan further.
“First tyre, get some feeling and try to push as hard as possible but then second tyre use a bit more strategy, knowing I can have a huge improvement following some of the riders.
“Brad was going pretty fast, he was also trying to catch Morbidelli and I could have a very good last lap and a great feeling - take my strong points, then try to compensate in the places where I'm losing the time. In turn 10, I was so close to Brad and it was better to overtake him to keep going fast. He is a guy that is breaking so hard so I was pretty happy to stay behind him and then go in turn 10, so for sure, he has to pick up the bike and I finished my lap in another good position.
“Yesterday and again today in qualifying I have to follow someone. My main level is going up but still for an extra five-tenths I need someone. I would prefer without, to get even more feeling because you always understand things better when you can do it alone, is not worrying me but the target is to be able to do it alone or just use someone when you are really in a critical moment. At the moment I can manage to stay at this performance so it's pretty good but I feel almost like again with Brad today was like 'sorry and thank you' as I said to Fabio yesterday. I think the target is to make a good pace and be able to rise up and be much faster when it’s necessary, even alone.
"It's a good end to Saturday and it will be good also for tomorrow, to have the chance to have a good start and see how Fabio and Jack [Miller] are riding, how we can fight or not and try to do a really constant race, to always keep a good feeling and control it till the end.
“During the day I got a bit of frustration, because I could not really do the step that I expected between Friday and Saturday. With the used tyre at the end of FP4, when Fabio was going quite fast, I could not follow him. Simply, I will say it's only rear grip but it's not so easy, because it's always a combination of many things. I think our base is always getting much, much better because from the Friday I can be competitive and even if I don't have the step forward during the Saturday, I can still be competitive in the qualifying. So that's why I say a bit of frustration, not to find a step to really feel strong against Fabio when thinking about the race, but at least always more and more chances to think about the podium. So anyway it's a good thing.
“There’s still a question mark tomorrow if the tyre will drop and then it will be another mix - because never forget that the Suzuki guys always surprise us at the end of the race - but at the moment, I feel Fabio is stronger even than in Mugello.”