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Portuguese GP: Zarco steals thrilling pole, Marquez 9th

Johann Zarco

Bengaluru, April 23: Pramac Racing's French rider Johann Zarco will start on the pole for Portuguese GP after denying 2020 MotoGP world champion Joan Mir a debut pole seconds after Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia Racing had sneaked his way onto the front row.

It was sheer entertainment to the absolute maximum in Portimao as no fewer than six different riders held provisional pole throughout a brilliant Q2.

With great risk often comes great reward is an adage all 12 MotoGP riders in Q2 were following as they tackled a patchy Algarve International Circuit with slick tyres.

Portuguese GP: Marquez leads Honda 1-2 at Portimao rollercoaster as wet conditions prevailPortuguese GP: Marquez leads Honda 1-2 at Portimao rollercoaster as wet conditions prevail

It was no surprise that the early pacesetting was done by the Q1 graduates Alex Marquez (LCR Castrol Honda) and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing), as the pair put their track knowledge to brilliant use.

But as the other ten riders got up to speed, and the track dried out further, the pace began to heat up. Three minutes were left when Zarco hit the top for the first time, but he was displaced just 30sec later by factory Suzuki's Mir.

Portuguese GP: Stage set for Portimao rollercoaster Portuguese GP: Stage set for Portimao rollercoaster

In a thrilling final 30sec that saw four riders provisionally sitting at the top of the pile, pole position, in the end, went the way of the final man to cross the line -- the experienced Zarco.

Despite sitting pretty at the top of the timesheets with the chequered flag out, Jack Miller did not even manage to hold on to a front row spot with Aleix Espargaro sneaking third whilst all eyes were on Zarco's charge for pole.

The Australian will be joined on row two of the grid by defending MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo, who recovered well from an early scare on a damp patch, and rookie Marco Bezzecchi, who put a big smile on the face of his trackside team owner Valentino Rossi.

Despite doing the early running, Alex Marquez and Luca Marini eventually slipped back to seventh and eighth.

Marc Marquez

Marc Marquez, meanwhile, will feel he deserved more than ninth after that late lap cancellation.

Pol Espargaro last corner crash saw him end up tenth on the grid ahead of a slightly underwhelming pair of KTMs in Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder. The duo have looked competitive all weekend but never looked like challenging in Q2.

If the sun shines on Sunday (Apriil 24) then it truly is anyone's guess who will take glory in Portimao after one of the most challenging weekends in recent memory.

The only thing that is guaranteed is drama. Don't miss lights out for Round 5 of the 2022 FIM MotoGP World Championship which starts at 1pm local time (5.30pm IST).

Indian audience can catch all athe action live on Eurosport channel.

TOP 10 ON THE GRID

1. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) - 1:42.003
2. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.195
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.232
4. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.500
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.713
6. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 0.713
7. Alex Marquez (LCR Castrol Honda) + 0.900
8. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 1.176
9. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 1.572
10. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 1.829

(By a special arrangement with Dorna Sports)

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Story first published: Saturday, April 23, 2022, 21:43 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 23, 2022