Quartararo takes third pole in a row in Yamaha 1-2

Pole seemed ready to go to Marc Marquez as there were rain spots on the final stages, but the top six switched right after death when a number of riders noticed an improvement in lap times in conditions.

Meanwhile, Q1 claimed several big rackets including championship leader Francesco Bagnaia and the Suzuki duo Joan Mir and Alex Rins.

The first quarter ended with wet tires, but at the start of the pole shootout session the track was dry enough to convince the Petronas SRT duo of Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli to start immediately on slicks.

But the gamble for Rossi, who backfired in the last corner as a near highside – in a lap in which he got on the stack early – sent him into the gravel.

At the same time, Ducati’s Jack Miller lit up the timing screens after switching to slicks shortly before to take the top of the stack at 1: 35.472 seconds, which he improved to 1: 34.374 seconds the next time around.

Johann Zarco on the Pramac Ducati set the benchmark for the first session with wet tires and returned to first place with slicks five minutes before the end with a time of 1: 34.211 minutes.

That only lasted a few seconds, however, as Honda’s Pol Espargaro shot first in 1: 33.150 minutes before Honda teammate Marquez shot to the top of the pile with 1: 33.037 minutes.

When Marquez was doing this lap, yellow flags were shown in the third sector after a crash by Miguel Oliveira of KTM while the rain fell in the first sector.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

This seemed to put Marquez in an impressive first pole position since 2019, leading a Honda 1-2-3 from Takaaki Nakagami and Espargaro from LCR.

But conditions cleared enough when the seconds ran out and the timing screens came back on. Vinales was the first to break a Honda heart with 1: 32.681 minutes.

Quartararo, however, went after him even faster, finding 0.081 seconds to snap his third straight pole of 2021.

Miller found a time of 1: 32.704 minutes on death to complete the front row ahead of Morbidelli and Zarco, while Marquez was shuffled back to sixth place.

Nakagami leads the third row in seventh ahead of Espargaro, who crashed in a short lap at the end. Rossi will start in ninth place.

Oliveira’s late fall put him in tenth place ahead of surprising Q1 graduate Lorenzo Savadori on the Aprilia and Avintia rookie Luca Marini, who followed Savadori in the first quarter.

Aleix Espargaro via sister Aprilia took the lead just seconds before the checkered flag but prematurely celebrated his efforts and was surprised by the late improvements for teammates Savadori and Marini.

Espargaro starts 13th ahead of the Suzuki duo of world champions Mir and Rins. Ducati factory rider Bagnaia added to his name the list of high profile names who couldn’t escape the first quarter. The Italian rider was only able to finish 16th ahead of the Tech3 KTM from 2020 Dan Mans winner Danilo Petrucci.

His team-mate Iker Lecuona will start in 20th place in 18th place ahead of Alex Marquez from LCR, who fell late, as well as Tito Rabat from Pramac.

Brad Binder’s miserable weekend at Le Mans continued into the first quarter. The KTM rider started 21st ahead of only Avintia newcomer Enea Bastianini.

French MotoGP qualifying result