Tech3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco topped the third practice session for the Qatar MotoGP, but the session had little impact on the standings. The Frenchman broke Jorge Lorenzo's record set in 2008 by 0.247s, completing the laptime in 1m53.680s.
Zarco managed to clock at one minute and 54.966 seconds, while Jack Miller (Alma Pramac) came just 0.497 seconds slower, followed by his teammate Danilo Petrucci in third with a time of one minute and 55.668 seconds, reported Efe.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow was to line up fourth for LCR Honda, while factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso, Marquez's main rival past year, qualified fifth.
The pole was Zarco's third in the top category of motorcycle Grand Prix racing that he entered previous year.
Suzuki Ecstar's Italian driver Andrea Iannone (left), Movistar Yamaha's Italian driver Valentino Rossi (center), and Ducati's Italian driver Andrea Dovizioso, attend a presser at the Losail Circuit on Friday, ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix.
"Feeling good. a good way also to begin this new season", said Zarco, who crashed in final free practice, but has been tipped as a possible championship contender this season. Honestly, right now, I feel like I lost three months, because the bike is totally different, and already from the first lap I felt much more comfortable than the bike I rode three months ago. "Now, I can fully focus on the race and hope that I won't make any mistakes during the 22 laps", said Hafizh Syahrin, as quoted on the team's official website.
The Ampang-born rider, who spent the last four seasons in Moto2, will start tonight's race from 15th on the grid after an impressive performance in qualifying on Saturday.