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Zarco secures pole for Portuguese MotoGP

Frenchman Johann Zarco will start Sunday’s Portuguese MotoGP in pole position on his Ducati Pramac after topping qualifying ahead of Spanish rider Joan Mir.

Aleix Espargaro was third quickest in Portimao on Saturday, while reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo will begin the fifth race of the year in fifth place. 

Championship leader Enea Bastianini failed to make it through to Q2 after crashing and finished 18th.

Zarco’s pole was the seventh of his career, but the twice-former Moto2 champion has never won a race in the elite category.

“I wasn’t expecting such a good lap,” said Zarco, who made the most of a drying track as the sun came out following rain-soaked practice sessions.

“The conditions were difficult with the puddles and we were asking ourselves which tyres to use during the last practice session. 

“We were finally able to use the dry tyres for the qualifying and that worked really well.”

Several of the favourites struggled to master the tricky surface, with Francesco Bagnaia appearing to injure his shoulder after a heavy tumble in Q1.

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez was in contention for pole but his lap was cancelled as Honda team-mate and compatriot Pol Espargaro crashed on the final corner.

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