Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco scored a second consecutive MotoGP front row start in Portimao this afternoon after a dramatic day saw his teammate out of action.
Regrouping after Jorge Martin’s high-speed FP3 crash, Zarco’s 1’38.911 time, accomplished on his second run in Q2, gifted him third place in the standings and alongside Suzuki’s Alex Rins and fellow countryman Fabio Quartararo.
A turn 11 crash on his first run was described by the team as a ‘harmless slip’ with the French rider returning immediately to the box for his second bike. Two more time-attacks providing ample opportunity to improve his pace and secure the spoils ahead of Sunday’s 25-lap battle.
“I am ready for tomorrow’s race,” Zarco stated. “To start on the first row is always an advantage. This is especially true for a track like this, where remaining in front of the group is fundamental. Unfortunately, I slipped during the first run, but I was able to bring the bike back to the box and this gave me the time to do the second run.
“It was nice to be on the first row because after the small crash, I get kind of stressed and worried. Then, in the box I could breathe and keep calm, to get the focus and try to push on the second bike and this worked really well.
"From Friday to Saturday we had a good step on the bike, which even I was surprised to feel good and immediately had a good lap time with the race tyre.
"Let’s see tomorrow because Fabio is enjoying a lot and is going fast. There are so many guys [in the mix] as we are used to so getting on the first row [is important]. I think with the Ducati I can have a good start, and it will be good to lead the race for a bit, and then see the situation, to play my game.
“I think in the race, maybe the second sector can be a bit difficult for us in Ducati, compared to the Yamaha. The last sector of Fabio is pretty strong, but maybe if I can follow him, I believe I can stay with him and then also get a bit of advantage in the straight to stay with him so that’s, at the moment, the plan, but we have to see. We have the chance to do well tomorrow.”