Johann Zarco will head the Silverstone grid for the British Grand Prix on Sunday after securing his eighth pole position in MotoGP.
The Prima Pramac rider stormed to success with a record-breaking 1’57.767 lap to claim the new all-time lap record at the UK venue, previously held by Marc Marquez. In fact Saturday’s qualifying session was so intense that the top eight riders were all under the Repsol Honda man’s previous benchmark - including rookie Marco Bezzecchi - with six riders circulating on 1’57 pace in quick succession.
Having topped Friday’s opening session as well as Saturday’s FP4, and remanned in the top four for the remaining practices, Zarco has been one of the most consistent performers in 2022, sitting third in the championship standings despite not having won a race in the premier class. It’s a target he would like to achieve at the British track if everything comes together in the awaiting 20-lap race.
“Nice feeling,” Zarco said from the post-qualifying press conference. “This morning already I could think about this lap around ‘58 but I had a crash and then in the afternoon during the FP4 I make good lap times with the hard rear tyre. When I moved to the soft one for the qualifier I was feeling quite good on the bike. First lap in ‘58.4 was already good.
“I was feeling that there is something extra to do and the second tyre gave me the good lap. Jack [Miller] and Fabio [Quartararo] was a bit in front so it was a great reference to have this motivation. Pretty happy that just on the first lap of the tyre I think is the best performance I could do.
“I didn’t have time to analyse well the sectors but my team say that in sector three, I was losing time so it seems that there is still a margin to go even faster and anyway the potential of the bike is incredible,” the Frenchman continued on his and the Desmosedici’s performance. “You’re sometimes surprised by the lap time. Maybe looking just the sectors, I have improve sector one that is a fast sector where they have changing directions. But the sector three maybe with the slow corners is the one that was not improving, at least because the rest is quite fast I could do a bit more feeling of this fast corners.
“From Friday I’ve been quite fast,” he confirmed. “Getting a good step from Friday to Saturday means that I have more chances than usual to think about the victory and pole position, is good motivation.
“The pace in FP4 looks also quite good so why not hope for this victory. But clearly not full focus on it and make a mistake, let’s see how the others will be strong in the race. I hope we get this advantage with the hard rear to have a nice present at the end.”
When looking ahead to Sunday’s contest, Zarco admits it won’t; be easy. With the usual crowd in the mix for the fight.
“All will be there,” he confirmed. “We know Fabio has the long lap to do but fortunately for him this long lap here in Silverstone is the shortest that we have on all the season it seems. I think he will lose time but he can still think to fight for the podium I guess. Jack loves this track, Maverick [Viñales] is feeling good on the Aprilia, Aleix [Espargaro] is always pretty strong - he had this huge crash so let’s see how he will feel tomorrow - and Pecco [Bagnaia], we know that sometimes he can be really strong. That’s why we will use this advantage of the pole position.
“I’m pretty happy that I got this good feeling on the hard rear tyre. Tomorrow will be a bit warmer temperatures so even more possibility to use this hard rear, and then if I have an advantage I will try to take it!”