INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — Marc Marquez will be the man to beat on Sunday as the sensational Spanish rookie tries to stretch his lead atop the MotoGP standings at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A bevy of more established stars, including his Respol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha factor rider Jorge Lorenzo, will be gunning for him with Pedros and Lorenzo in particular hoping to reassert themselves in the second half of the season after overcoming injury. “Now we start the second half and we have recharged our batteries over the summer,” said Marquez, who closed out the first half of the season with a triumph at Laguna Seca in California on July 21. “It will be difficult and interesting because Dani and Jorge have recovered. It’s one of the tracks I seem to ride quite well, so I hope to do the same with the MotoGP bike. The conditions change a lot from first practice to the race, it’s so slippery.
“We will see how we will do with the Bridgestone tires, but it will be the same for everybody. We will try to find our way, starting with FP1.” The race at the famed “Brickyard” is one of three U.S. stops on the MotoGP calendar. In addition to his triumph at Laguna Seca, Marquez won the inaugural event at the new circuit in Austin, Texas, in April. He also won a race in Germany and with three victories this season tops the standings with 163 points. Pedrosa is second on 147. Lorenzo third on 137 and Italy’s Valentino Rossi fourth on 117. Pedrosa had been leading the world championship chase when he broke his collarbone in practice for the German Grand Prix in July. He’s eager to see how his rehabilitated body will stand up to riding. “Basically it was all about not moving a lot and staying quiet,” Pedrosa said of his rehab. “The healing process is getting better and over these last days we have seen some signs of the bones recovering, so that is good. Now I’m just waiting to go out, checking how everything is on the bike.” Lorenzo broke his collarbone in practice for the Dutch GP, then fell again in Germany. He managed a sixth-placed finish at Laguna Seca, but says he’s fitter now. “Obviously I’m not like I was before Assen, but much better than Laguna,” the reigning world champion said. “I have spent the holiday trying to recover the collarbone, so let’s see how it goes.” In addition to Marquez, Britain’s Cal Crutchlow will be in the spotlight this week after announcing during the mid-season break that he has signed with Ducati for the next two seasons. He’ll be jumping from Monster Yamaha Tech3, where he has ridden since his MotoGP debut in 2011. American Ben Spies, who has missed the last seven races with a shoulder injury, will make his return in front of home fans. “It’s been a rough year, to say the least,” the Pramac Racing rider said. “Now we can get on with the business and start the season properly. “It’s a good track to come back to, we have good memories here,” added Spies, who nabbed podium places at Indy in 2010 and 2011. “We’ll just try to get faster with each session and see where we can end up over the next couple of weeks.”