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Quartararo snatches French GP pole in dramatic fashion

Monster Energy Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo made it three pole positions in a row in the 2021 MotoGP season after qualifying fastest in dramatic fashion on Saturday. Steve Wobser/Getty Images

Fabio Quartararo took his third straight pole position of the season at his home French Grand Prix ahead of his Yamaha team mate Maverick Vinales in a damp and windy qualifying session at Le Mans on Saturday.

Six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez nearly clinched pole in what was initially a front row lockout for the Hondas before the two Yamahas went faster in the dying seconds of the session, while Ducati's Jack Miller will start third on the grid.

Rain in the practice session earlier on Saturday forced riders to gamble on the type of tyre to choose, with wet tyres being used in Q1 before most of the track dried up before Q2.

For Quartararo, it is a second straight pole position in his home race, but the Frenchman said he had no idea he was fastest until he made it back to his garage.

"I was so nervous before the qualifying because I was going to use medium tyres. In the out lap I decided I needed to go straightaway to the pit lane (to switch tyres)," Quartararo said.

"For the last lap, I said I either crash or make the front row. I didn't know till I arrived (in the pit lane) that I was on pole position."

Petronas Yamaha's Franco Morbidelli, who was the among the first riders out on soft slick tyres, starts fourth, ahead of Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) and Marquez.

Takaaki Nakagami and Pol Espargaro, who were set to start alongside Marquez before dropping down, will start seventh and eighth on the grid, while Petronas Yamaha's Valentino Rossi starts in ninth.

Defending champion Joan Mir of Suzuki and world championship leader Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati both failed to set a time fast enough to advance to the second qualifying session and will start 14th and 16th respectively.