Brno, Aug 8: Johann Zarco earned a surprise pole position in qualifying for the Czech Republic Grand Prix, with MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo second in Brno.
Frenchman Zarco, riding for Reale Avintia Ducati, pulled a time of one minute and 55.687 seconds out of the bag in Brno to earn a first pole since his home race in the 2018 season.
It ends a run of four straight poles for his compatriot Quartararo, who won the opening two races of the season - which were both held at Jerez.
Quartararo would have been third after Pol Espargaro registered a quicker time, only for the Spaniard's effort to be wiped for continuing his lap in yellow flag conditions, meaning he starts sixth.
There was brief concern when Quartararo came piling off his bike on his last flying lap when pushing to chase down Zarco's time despite being well down heading into the final sector, but he walked away unscathed.
Franco Morbidelli qualified third, while Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) was so close to an unexpected front-row position after brilliantly tailing Quartararo earlier in the session.
Maverick Vinales will start from fifth, with the third row comprising Brad Binder, Danilo Petrucci and Joan Mir.
Valentino Rossi's bid to become the first rider to secure 200 premier class podiums was hindered after he could only post the 10th quickest time.
In the first qualifying session there were a couple of surprises with Jack Miller in 14th and Andrea Dovizioso 18th.
Repsol Honda - still without world champion and talisman Marc Marquez as he recovers from a broken arm sustained in round one - have Stefan Bradl and Alex Marquez at the very back of the grid.
1. Johann Zarco (Reale Avintia Ducati) 1:55.68 2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) +0.303s 3. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +0.311s 4. Aleix Espargaro (Factory Aprilia Gresini) +0.387s 5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.444s 6. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory) +0.455s 7. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory) +0.612s 8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) +0.767s 9. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.825s 10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.828
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