Marquez adds to American domination with Indy win
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Marc Marquez makes winning look easy in America.
The 20-year-old rookie took the lead Sunday with a nifty inside pass midway through the Indianapolis Grand Prix, saved his wobbly bike two turns later and then pulled away from the pack for a 3.495-second victory over Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.
He became only the third rider in MotoGP history, and the first rookie, to win three races in one country in the same season. Marquez’s fourth win of the season also tied Kenny Roberts’ single-season rookie record, set in 1978, and gave Marquez his fifth straight win on U.S. soil.
“It will be my second country,” he said after dousing himself with the traditional champagne. “We had the perfect weekend.”
The only downside is that Marquez won’t be back for about eight months.
But for the Spanish star with the increasingly impressive resume, Sunday’s victory was another major milestone.
Marquez has now won three straight races, the longest overall streak by a rookie since Roberts. He joined two-time world champions Jorge Lorenzo, of Spain, and Casey Stoner, of Australia, as the only riders in series history to pull off a three-race season sweep in one nation. Lorenzo did it in his home country during his world-title winning season of 2010, while Stoner duplicated the feat in 2011 when he won a second world title.
Lorenzo, the 2009 Indy winner who competes for Yamaha Factory Racing, finished third Sunday, more than 5.7 seconds off the pace.
Marquez extended his lead to 21 points over Pedrosa, who is still trying to recover from a broken collarbone he sustained earlier this season.
“I’m pleased to be in this chair,” Pedrosa said. “It’s a tough race, but also a tough situation. If you saw the X-rays, you wouldn’t believe I could do this race.”
Marquez pulled off another rare feat by winning for a third straight time at the historic Brickyard. He won Moto2 titles in 2011 and 2012 on Indy’s 2.621-mile, 16-turn road course.
Not bad for a guy who started the season with aspirations of just trying to make regular appearances on the podium. Now, he’s the guy everybody is trying to chase.
Marquez came into the race a heavy favorite after posting the fastest times in both practice rounds Friday and Saturday and becoming the first MotoGP rider to break the 1 minute, 38-second barrier with his record pole-winning run Saturday.
So when Lorenzo and Pedrosa beat Marquez into the first turn on the first lap, Marquez was forced to playing catch-up for the first time all weekend.
He didn’t fret. Instead, Marquez bided his time, saving his tires as Lorenzo’s and Pedrosa’s wore their down.
Eventually, Marquez caught his teammate and the defending race winner with an inside move on the ninth lap. Four laps later, he ran down the defending world champ, again passing on the inside, before hitting the curbing in the fourth turn. Somehow, though, Marquez managed to save his bobbly bike without losing track position.
It was the only chance anyone had of derailing the American sweep.
“I feel good in the USA, I won the three races here,” he said. “Now we go back to Europe and try to do the same thing.”
Pedrosa spent the rest of the race chasing Lorenzo, finally passing him with two laps to go in the 27-lap race.
The top American finisher was 2006 world champ Nicky Hayden of the Ducati Team. He was ninth, 40.701 seconds behind Marquez.
Two injured racers did not compete. Karel Abraham of the Czech Republic is trying to recover from a torn muscle in his shoulder in a crash Friday. He’s questionable for next week’s race in his home nation.
American Ben Spies also did not compete Sunday because of a dislocated left shoulder and possibly injured left wrist. He told reporters that he actually had more pain Sunday than he had when he was injured Saturday in a hard crash. It’s not clear how much time Spies will miss. He hasn’t raced April.
Notes: Spain’s Esteve Rabat defeated Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami by 0.766 seconds in the Moto2 race. ... Alex Rins made it a Spanish sweep by defeating Estrella Galicia teammate Alex Marquez by 0.177 seconds in the Moto3 race. ... Hafizh Syahrin defeated Steve Rapp by 0.060 seconds in the Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series race. ... American Shelina Moreda started three races this weekend and became the first female to compete in two different racing series on the same weekend at Indy. She was 20th in the Harley race.