Ducati’s Johan Zarco set a new track record to take pole for British MotoGP in qualifying at Silverstone on Saturday, while Aleix Espargaro finished sixth after a high-speed crash.
Zarco claimed his second pole position of the season and eighth in MotoGP with a stylish lap of 1min 57.767sec, breaking the previous record of 1min 58.168sec set by the absent Marc Marquez.
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“It’s a legendary circuit and it makes me feel comfortable around it,” said the current man, who has given himself the perfect platform to secure his first MotoGP success.
The 32-year-old smiled and replied: “Why not?”, when asked at the post-race press conference if it could be a case of a girl winning MotoGP when she started on pole in eighth. he replied. “I want this victory, but I don’t want to think only about that, and then to make a mistake.
“We’ll see how strong the others are, I’m hoping to take advantage of the hard rear tire to help me get a good gift at the end.
Zarco, who rides for Ducati’s satellite Pramac team, is joined at the front of Sunday’s race, 0.098s behind by Aprilia Maverick Vinales and Australia’s Jack Miller on the factory Ducati.
Miller said: “I’m happy with the result in qualifying today, especially as we set a fast time at a fantastic pace. I tried to relax and make the most of our ability, and finally pushed hard to take a trunk, but Johan had one more thing.
In FP4, we showed that we have good race pace, and now we will work on trying to make up a few tenths, but overall we are ready to fight for the win. The only doubt is the tires: the choice depends a lot on the temperature we get tomorrow.
Recovery from crash
Aleix Espargaro somehow managed to finish sixth in the Aprilia despite suffering a heavy crash on the day.
The 33-year-old, who set the fastest time in the third practice session, sent his bike flying at 115mph (185km/h) in the fourth session.
Medics took him to a stretcher. But despite being visibly stunned by the impact, Espargaro was able to make it to the treatment center with support from both sides.
The accident was the last thing we wanted,” Espargaro said.
“I was feeling better on the bike, I was pushing harder, and the uphill section was more aggressive. I’m really sick and it’s getting worse so I’d better rest until tomorrow with the team and the doctors and we’ve assessed him after the heat.
“I’ll do everything I can to be on the track, but we’re talking about a body part that’s under a lot of stress during the ride, so we’ll have to see if it’s possible.”
However, Aprilia said: “Alex’s condition will be evaluated in the next hours because if the pain worsens, he will not be able to participate in the race tomorrow.”
Heading into this race after the mid-summer break, Zarco is 37 points adrift of Yamaha’s world championship leader, Quartararo, in third place.
World champion and series leader Fabio Quatararo finished fourth for this 12th round of the 20-race season.
The Frenchman has to serve a long lap penalty during the race for his collision with Espargaro at Assen before the break.
“I didn’t have anything else to give,” said the Yamaha star after completing one of his best laps of the season.
“I’m happy with my run pace from the last practice, which is very positive,” he added.
“Our pace means we’ll be fighting for the win, but with my penalty shootout I can’t say where I’ll be.”
Quattararo is the second row rider for Ducati and Espargaro’s Aprilia.
Quattararo won here last year and is trying to break British MotoGP’s statistical oddity.
In the year No one has won the race twice in a row since Jorge Lorenzo in 2012 and 2013, with a total of six races canceled in 2018 (heavy rain) and 2020 (Covid-19).
Former Silverstone lap record holder and six-time MotoGP champion Marquez, meanwhile, continues to recover from surgery on a broken arm sustained in a crash at the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix.
In mid-August, it is time for an important medical examination, after which the idea of when to return to the day job should be clearer.