INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Marc Marquez’s march to perfection stayed on course at Indianapolis.
The seemingly unbeatable 21-year-old Spaniard put himself in prime position Saturday to make history again after claiming his second straight Indianapolis Grand Prix pole. Marquez completed Indy’s newly reconfigured 2.591-mile, 16-turn road course in 1 minute, 31.619 seconds, more than two-tenths of a second ahead of Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso. Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo qualified third for Sunday’s race.
Marquez has won eight of the 10 poles this season and is the first back-to-back pole winner in this race’s seven-year history. If he wins again Sunday, Marquez would become the youngest rider in series history with 10 straight wins and the first to ever win back-to-back at Indy.
“I feel good, especially for the race because I’ve got a good rhythm going,” the defending world champ said.
If he keeps this up, the young Repos Honda star could clinch another championship in his home country Sept. 28 with four races left -- regardless of how anyone else does.
He’s also become rather comfortable in Indianapolis’ famed Victory Lane. Marquez won Moto2 races here in 2011 and 2012, giving him a rare shot to win four straight at one of racing’s most venerable venues.
But this one came with a few flaws. During the morning practice, Marquez made a rare miscue and wobbled on his bike in the 16th turn before regaining control. And qualifying, he drove past the first turn because he said he was going too fast.
Even a couple of small mistakes couldn’t derail Marquez.
Dovizioso, the Ducati Team rider was clocked at a record-breaking 214.5 mph in the track’s speed trap in the morning, found enough speed late in qualifying to challenge Marquez with a 1:31.844. Lorenzo, the 2009 Indy winner who rides for Moister Yamaha, was next at 1:31.869. Nobody else cracked 1:32.
And Marquez would like to keep make things look that easy one more time Sunday.
“Confidence is important tomorrow,” he said. “I hope it’s a normal race, good race and I’ll fight for the victory.”
LATE CRASH: England’s Bradley Smith was the only rider injured Saturday. He fell during qualifying and skidded down the pavement with his bike trailing just before the checkered flag came out. Smith was taken to the infield medical center where he had scans taken on his chest and fingers. Series officials said he was treated for an undisclosed injury to the fifth finger on his left hand and that he was cleared to compete Sunday. Smith will start ninth, the inside of Row 3, for Monster Yamaha Tech 3.
TOUGH DAY: Danni Pedrosa, Marquez’s teammate, has been one of the most consistent riders at Indy. But he’ll have some serious work to do Sunday, after he fell out of the front row and all the way back to the No. 8 starting spot -- matching his worst ever in seven Indy races. The Spaniard has four straight top-two finishes here, winning in 2010 and 2012, a streak that could be broken Sunday. He and Marquez are the only two-time pole winners, too.
AMERICAN STRUGGLE: Colin Edwards is the only American racing Sunday, and it looks like he won’t have a chance. The soon-to-be retired Texan will start 15th, the inside of Row 5, in his final race on home soil. It’s been a tough season for the 40-year-old Edwards, whose NGM Forward Yamaha team threw a farewell celebration for him at the track following qualifying.
THE FUTURE: Speedway President Doug Boles and series officials continue to talk about a contract extension. Boles issued a statement Saturday that read in part: “The conversations are ongoing and a high priority and we will make an announcement about the future as soon as possible.”
OTHER SERIES: Finland’s Mika Kallio claimed the Moto2 pole, his second of the season, with a fast lap of 1:36.883. Australia’s Jack Miller, the Moto3 points leader, won his sixth pole of the season with a lap of 1:40.727. And Northern Ireland’s Jeremy McWilliams won the Harley-Davidson race by 0.083 seconds over Wisconsin’s Ben Carlson.