(Reuters) -Pramac Ducati's Johann Zarco obliterated the all-time lap record at the Silverstone circuit on Saturday to take pole position at the British Grand Prix, while Aleix Espargaro salvaged a sixth-placed finish after a massive highside crash in earlier in the day.
Eight riders beat Marc Marquez's old lap record of 1:59.936, which the Honda rider set in 2019, with Zarco's 1:57.767 topping six riders under the 1:58 barrier
The Frenchman pipped Maverick Vinales of Aprilia by 0.098 seconds as he put himself in prime position to register his first win in the premier class.
Ducati's Jack Miller completed the front row, besting Yamaha's reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo by only 0.007 seconds.
"I'm very happy. I got good confidence in FP4 on the hard rear tyre," said Zarco, who was fastest in the final practice session earlier. "On the first lap with the soft tyre during qualifying I felt that the 58.4 was coming.
"It was necessary to have an extra push with the second tyre. I'm very happy I was able to do that... Nobody was slowing down on the track and there were just a few riders in front of me. It was good enough to get this extra motivation."
Vinales' team mate Espargaro was stretchered away from the track after crashing at Farm curve during FP4 and taken for medical checks less than an hour before the start of Q2.
Espargaro was soon declared fit to ride despite suffering some bruising to his right foot and returned for Q2, producing the first new lap record of the day with 1:57.966 to take provisional pole.
He found himself shuffled back to sixth, however, as title rival and championship leader Quartararo briefly went pole before Miller snatched it away, with Zarco eventually steering clear after a late surge from Vinales.
Quartararo was pushed back to the second row and will start in fourth place. He will need to overcome a long lap penalty on Sunday to secure a second straight British GP win.
Espargaro is 21 points behind Quartararo heading into the first race since the midsummer break, with Zarco a further 37 points adrift in third.
Francesco Bagnaia, eight points behind Zarco, will start in fifth. Rookie Marco Bezzecchi of the VR46 Racing Team claimed seventh place, with Enea Bastianini in eighth.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Hugh Lawson)