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2014 After Qatar

Will start after first race
Zarco takes pole on drying Motegi track

But Marquez in third is the race favorite
Saturday, October 14, 2017

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Johann Zarco waits to qualify
Johann Zarco waits to qualify
France’s Johann Zarco took a shock pole in Japan, stunning the field to clinch top spot at the last minute.

Zarco starts ahead of Italy’s Danilo Petrucci with reigning champion Marc Marquez completing the front row.

After displaying a strong pace in every session at the Japanese Grand Prix, Repsol Honda’s Marquez set the third fastest time of the day at the end of a thrilling qualifying session on a drying Motegi track.

After switching from rain tires to slicks for his second time attack, the 24-year-old Spaniard was unable to improve on the time that had until then put him on provisional pole.

Nonetheless, his 1’53.903” time, set despite a big slide in the final corner, was quick enough to earn him his 11th front-row start of this season, less than half a second from pole-setter Johann Zarco.

Valentino Rossi also gambled on heading out on slicks from the beginning on a wet-but-drying track in Motegi.

And that risk didn’t pay off after the Italian great slipped off his bike at turn eight.

Spanish trio Aleix Espargaro, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa complete the top six.

Title challenger Andrea Dovizioso, who is second in the championship race 16 points behind Marquez, will start from ninth after a tricky qualifying.

Marquez has good grid position on his title rivals but will be wary of the threat from behind.

Marquez remains the favorite to take the win on Sunday
Marquez remains the favorite to take the win on Sunday

"The result is good but clearly the slicks today weren’t the right choice, as it was a bit too early for them.

"Anyway, you always have to look at the positive side of things, which in this case, firstly is that we’re still on the front row, as we had already done a very good lap time on rain tires; and secondly is that we managed to understand a few things in case of a flag-to-flag race.

"I’m also happy I saved a crash when I set my fastest time and avoided my team missing dinner tonight! I think we’ve had a good weekend so far, being able to do well in every session in the wet, keeping a fast pace in quite challenging conditions, and that’s very positive.

"Tomorrow it looks like it will rain again, but we’ll see; we could also have mixed conditions, and in that case we will have to be ready for every situation."

And with weather conditions set to be mixed once again tomorrow, the race promises to be a thriller.

Qualifying Results

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1'53.469
2 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1'53.787
3 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1'53.903
4 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1'53.947
5 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team Ducati 1'54.235
6 PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1'54.342
7 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1'54.872
8 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1'54.906
9 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1'55.064
10 RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1'55.483
11 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 1'55.617
12 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1'57.786
13 BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 1'55.862 Q1
14 VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1'55.916 Q1
15 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 1'55.952 Q1
16 BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 1'56.292 Q1
17 BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 1'56.668 Q1
18 LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1'56.771 Q1
19 RABAT Tito 53 SPA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1'56.903 Q1
20 ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 1'57.144 Q1
21 AOYAMA Hiroshi 7 JPN EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 1'57.157 Q1
22 REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1'57.787 Q1
23 NAKASUGA Katsuyuki 21 JPN Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 1'57.861 Q1
24 NOZANE Kohta 31 JPN Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 2'01.730 Q1

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