Johann Zarco enjoyed yet another strong day with the Pramac Ducati team during qualifying, as the French rider will start second behind his impressive rookie team-mate Jorge Martin

After a second place finish during last Sunday’s opening MotoGP Grand Prix at the Losail International Circuit, Zarco will be hoping to go one better tomorrow after topping the race simulation FP4 session. 

His main challenger is likely to come in the form of round one winner Maverick Vinales, who is alongside the two-time Moto2 champion on the grid in third. 

Asked if he was happy with his lap time which looked to be good enough for pole before Martin snatched it away, Zarco said: "Sure, I’m pretty happy. A low 1m 53s was a good target to be on the first row. 

"When I see this 53.2s when I just crossed the finish line I expect to maybe be on pole, but when I understood the #89 was on pole, my team-mate, I was really surprised and happy anyway. 

"I didn’t ride in FP3 to not make any confusion and the wind was pretty strong, plus there was some sand in the air so it was better to wait and do a nice FP4 and I did well. 

"With this wind we are able to do a good speed, but maybe the pace is a bit hard to keep pretty high. 

"I think Vinales has a bit better pace than us at the moment, so let’s see tomorrow what we can do starting on the first row with our powerful bike."

With all the change at Ducati in 2021 which has seen all six seats taken up by different riders, many looked at Jack Miller or Francesco Bagnaia in the factory team as the leading title challengers for the Bologna bullets. 

However, with the start to the season the Frenchman has had and his consistency albeit only at the Qatar circuit so far, he was asked about being a contender and the confidence Ducati has in him. 

Zarco added: "We all know that I have some good experience now, even if I had some tough moments in the last two years. 

"But with the bike going well and the team controlling everything perfectly, Ducati is supporting us as Official team in Pramac, so I want to believe I also have my chance. 

"I think all the time to get better, to get a better feeling on the bike and have the control that I would wish. 

"It seems step-by-step this is coming. Here we are in Qatar where the Ducati is coming pretty well, so I also take this opportunity, but I say before the season that my target would be to the same level that Jack finished the season last year. 

"It means fighting for podiums and even fighting for victory. I could start immediately from this pace from the first race, so the target is to continue in that way. If I can stay clever for all the races and have this good feeling I can have a good chance."