INDIANAPOLIS — Marc Marquez added a record-breaking touch to his already remarkable rookie season.
The 20-year-old Spaniard continued to dominate the Indianapolis Grand Prix, winning the pole Saturday with a fast lap of 1 minute, 37.958 seconds, easily beating out Jorge Lorenzo (1:38.471) and shattering Dani Pedrosa’s year-old record of 1:38.813. Marquez became the first MotoGP rider to crack the 1:38 mark on Indy’s 2.621-mile, 16-turn road course, outdueling a two-time world champion the only two-time Indy winner in the process.
And Marquez is just getting started.
“(Sunday) will be a tough race because everybody is struggling quite a lot at the end of the race with the tire,” Marquez said. “I think we have a good base. We are ready for to fight for the win.”
The only real question seems to be whether anyone can catch this season’s wonder kid at the historic Brickyard?
In April, at Texas, Marquez became the youngest winner in series history. In July, at Laguna Seca, Marquez became the youngest rider to win back-to-back races in series history. He’s the first MotoGP rider since 1978 to win more than two races as a rookie, and he came to Indianapolis leading the points chase.
It’s been pretty much the same story at Indianapolis.
Marquez led both practice sessions Friday, both practice sessions Saturday and took the early lead in qualifying. Then, with three minutes left in the 15-0minute qualifying session, he finally broke Pedrosa’s record.
Spain wound up taking each of the top three starting spots. Lorenzo, the 2009 Indy winner who competes for Yamaha Factory Racing, finished second. Pedrosa, the defending Indy champ and Marquez’s teammate with Repsol Honda, was third in 1:38.485.
But even the steady veterans such as Lorenzo and Pedrosa had trouble keeping up with the fearless and aggressive Marquez.
“They are really strong, not only Marc, but also Dani and Stefan (Bradl),” Lorenzo said, referring to the Honda engines. “For us, it is really difficult to be with them. But I get improvement every session.”
Marquez just gets results.
He has won four poles this season and is now in prime position to pull off an unprecedented three-race American sweep. Three of the previous five Indy winners won from the pole including the last two — Australia’s Casey Stoner in 2011 and Pedrosa in 2012.
The only other riders to win three races in the same country in one season are Lorenzo in 2010 and Stoner in 2011.
Marquez is trying to pull off an equally rare feat by winning for the third consecutive year at Indy. He won the 2011 and 2012 in Moto2 at the historic Brickyard, and the only thing that may stop Marquez now is a rookie mistake.
“They really got a good talent, I think he’s really comfortable with the bike moving around,” 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden said. “It’s a great combination, that bike and him, and now the last couple of races , he’s got a lot of momentum and confidence going. Right now, he’s going to be tough to beat.”
The Americans did not have a good day at Indy.
Hayden, the Ducati Team rider from Kentucky, will start sixth — the highest of any U.S. rider — after posting a best lap of 1:39.142. Colin Edwards of NGM Mobile Forward Racing qualified 11th in 1:40.372.
Ben Spies, who won the pole here in 2010, failed in his attempted to make it back from October surgery on his right shoulder. He crashed in Saturday morning’s practice session, going over the handlebars and landing hard on his left shoulder. About 90 minutes later, doctors diagnosed Spies with a dislocated left shoulder and declared him “unfit” to compete this weekend. Spies has not raced since the Texas race in April. He was not available for comment.
For Marquez, though, there’s only thing on his mind — winning yet again and expanding his points lead.