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MotoGP Motegi: Zarco smashes lap record to take Moto2 pole

Johann Zarco destroyed the Motegi lap record to take pole for tomorrow’s Moto2 race – and seconds later crashed out.

But the Ajo Motorsport rider’s quick lap of 1’49.961s was enough to ensure no-one else could steal the top spot.

Today’s qualifying session was held in near perfect conditions at the Japanese track, and initially it was Garage Plus Interwetten’s Thomas Luthi who looked in command, leading the way in the third free practice session and carrying the pace through to qualifying.


Estrella Galicia 0, 0 Marc VDS pilot Franco Morbidelli moved up to provisional pole several minutes in, just seconds before both of the Forward Team bikes of Luca Marini and Lorenzo Baldassarri crashed in completely separate includes just moments apart.

Morbidelli hung on to the top spot for a while, but Luthi came back, stealing it back and holding the position as the session headed into its closing minutes.

Elsewhere on track, Britain’s Sam Lowes was determined to get his lap times down, and kept bettering his own pace but was unable to match the front guys.

With just under three minutes left Zarco decided it was time to get a move on, setting his scorching sub 1.50 lap to power his way to pole and the first ever 1.49 lap at Motegi.

Lowes continued to push but just over-egged it, the Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 rider running wide and into the gravel, ending his chances of improving.

Seconds later Zarco also made a mistake and crashed out at Turn Three. However, it didn’t matter too much as no-one was in any position to mount a serious challenge to his previous lap.

Luthi managed to hold onto second, with Morbidelli third as Lowes had to settle for fourth. It means he has a big job on tomorrow, as he needs to beat Zarco and get a good result if he is to make up some of the 40 point gap between himself and the Frenchman.

Alex Rins, the other big player in this year’s title fight looks to be out of the picture at the moment. The Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider struggled to bounce back from a big crash on Friday and could only manage to qualify 22nd.

Currently just one point adrift of Zarco in the championship, the Spaniard has a big mountain to climb tomorrow.


Dynavolt Intact GP pilot Sandro Cortese will take his place alongside Lowes in fifth position, while Axel Pons, who crashed in the closing minutes, was able to hold onto sixth.

Local rider Takaaki Nakagami will be looking to impress from seventh on the grid, while Alex Marquez will start eighth, Jonas Folgar ninth and Mattia Pasini 10th.

Brit Danny Kent will start from 15th on his Leopard Racing machine.

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