Zarco claims maiden pole in Assen


Assen (Netherlands) (AFP)

Yamaha Tech3's French rider Johann Zarco edged four-time champion Marc Marquez in final qualifying to claim his maiden MotoGP pole on Saturday for the Dutch Grand Prix in Assen.

Honda's Marquez and Ducati's Danilo Petrucci keep Zarco company on the front row with world championship leader Maverick Vinales only managing to make the fifth row.

Italian veteran Valentino Rossi sets off on the second row with Briton Scott Redding and Zarco's teammate Jonas Folger.

Reigning Moto2 champion Zarco, at only his eighth attempt, becomes the first Frenchman since Olivier Jacque in Germany 15 years ago to set off from pole in the world championship's top category.

The 26-year-old coped best with a wet circuit and windy conditions to shade Marquez by .065sec and Petrucci by .385s as Vinales, who had posted the fastest time in practice, failed to make an impact.

Yamaha's Spanish rider trailed in 11th in the pole-deciding session, a full 2.125s adrift.

At least Vinales made it through to second qualifying, in contrast to three time former MotoGP titleholder Jorge Lorenzo who trailed in 21st to leave him languishing on the penultimate row on Sunday's grid.

In the race for the 2017 world championship Vinales leads on 111 points from Dovizioso (104) and Marquez (88).

Zarco, in sixth with 75 points, is seeking to become the first French MotoGP winner since Regis Laconi in 1999, with none of his fellow countrymen ever wearing the MotoGP crown.