INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Even Marc Marquez’s imperfections couldn’t derail his perfect season Sunday.
The 21-year-old MotoGP sensation recovered from a bad start to take the lead, gave it right back and then retook the lead for the final 18 laps, beating Spain’s Jorge Lorenzo by 1.803 seconds to become the first back-to-back winner of the Indianapolis Grand Prix. Italy’s Valentino Rossi was third.
Though Marquez has been virtually unbeatable this season, with eight poles and 10 wins in 10 races, it looked as if a couple of early miscues might put that streak in jeopardy. Not a chance.
“Every race I go to the weekend and I say, ‘OK, here maybe is the time to finish second or third. Here will be the time that I will struggle,’” Marquez said. “But every race I feel so strong. The most important thing is that I enjoy seeing the podium and the team enjoy every victory like the first one. So it is important to keep the motivation and the concentration, and we will see. But it will be so difficult to win every race.”
So far, nobody has caught Marquez, who has been breaking records and pursuing milestones since jumping to MotoGP last year.
The youngest world champion in history is now the youngest rider to win 10 straight races, breaking the mark Mike Hailwood set in 1964 when he was 24 years, 86 days old. Marquez is 21 years, 174 days.
The streak ties Australia’s Mick Doohan (1997) for the longest run in the series’ modern era. And Marquez’s latest win also gave the powerful Spaniards their 500th grand prix victory.
Perhaps this should have been expected, given Marquez’s track record. He’s won all five American races over the past two seasons and has now pulled off a rare feat at one of racing’s most famous venues — four straight race wins. In addition to the 2013 and 2014 Indy GP titles, Marquez also won Indy’s Moto2 races in 2011 and 2012.
Even two previous Indy race winners, Lorenzo and Rossi, the Movistar Yamaha teammates, couldn’t keep up with the wonder kid this time.
“When Marc attacked Valentino, he improved his space and maybe I was too late to pass Valentino because my braking was not so strong,” Lorenzo said. “When I passed him in the — when he opened a little bit the line in some corners — maybe mine was too far. My pace was similar to him (Marquez) but not enough to challenge him for the victory.”
This time, Marquez did give his colleagues a chance on the reconfigured 2.591-mile, 16-turn track.
Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso flew past Marquez at the start and Rossi moved all the way into the lead after starting fifth on the grid, forcing Marquez back into an uncharacteristic fifth.
With a series of daring dips and dives, Marquez quickly moved up. By the second lap, he was third. On the fifth lap, Rossi and Dovizioso touched, giving Marquez a chance to squeeze inside and pass both for the lead. A few moments after that, Rossi returned the favor with an inside move. But on the ninth lap, Marquez made a nifty and dangerous inside move to pass Lorenzo and Rossi to take the lead.
Nobody challenged the Repsol Honda star again.
“On that second corner, I was trying to overtake Jorge again, but I saw Valentino was also a little bit wide and I say ‘OK, I will go in,’” Marquez said. “I go a little bit wide, but then I come back on corner three and after that I led the race.”
Notes: American Colin Edwards finished 13th in his final race on U.S. soil. The 40-year-old is retiring after the season and did one lap with an American flag following the race. … Finland’s Mika Kallio defeated Spain’s Maverick Vinales by 1.38 seconds in a Moto2 race that was shortened from 25 laps to 16 after three riders — Switzerland’s Thomas Luthi, America’s Josh Herrin and Spain’s Julian Simon — were involved in a crash on the fourth lap. The race was red flagged but all three riders eventually walked away. Kallio moved within seven points of Spain’s Esteve Rabat in the season standings. … Spain’s Efran Vazquez defeated Romano Fenati of Italy by 0.065 seconds to win the Moto3 race. Third-place finisher Jack Miller of Australia saw his points lead over Vazquez shrink to 21. … California’s Steve Rapp defeated Oklahoma’s Danny Eslick by 0.011 seconds in the Harley-Davidson race.
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