Young star gains pole at Circuit of the Americas for second round of series.
Spain’s Marc Marquez put his Honda on pole position for Sunday’s MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, topping the qualifying times Saturday in just his second MotoGP weekend.
Marquez, fastest in three of four practice sessions on the new Circuit of the Americas, will start from the front row alongside compatriots Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo — the reigning world champion and winner of the season-opening race at Qatar two weeks ago.
Marquez clocked 2:03.021 while Pedrosa was second-quickest in 2:03.275. They were the only riders under 2:04 in qualifying as Lorenzo managed just 2:04.100.
Marquez, a 20-year-old Catalonian who won the Moto2 world title last season, became the youngest rider ever to gain a MotoGP pole, surpassing American Freddie Spencer — the 1983 world champion.
“We are happy of course because we have taken our first pole position, which is important and always exciting,” Marquez said.
He continued his strong start to his first season in the top series, after finishing third in Qatar behind Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
“We knew beforehand that we could fight for pole, but you never know what will happen in the session. Both Dani and Jorge are fast over a single lap — and we managed to overcome them.
“The important stuff starts tomorrow because we have a long, physical race with many of changes of direction to deal with.”
Twenty-four riders will start Sunday’s race.
The absentees will include Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, who broke his right collarbone in a collision with Australian Bryan Staring in the first qualifying session.
Pedrosa improved his time on his final run, but couldn’t oust Marquez from the pole.
Lorenzo appeared to be attempting to avoid traffic by taking a lap through pit lane — but rejoined the track too late for a last-gasp bid.
Lorenzo, however, said the real problem was that the factory Yamahas just couldn’t produce the speed of their rivals.
“What happened in qualifying is more or less what happened in all the sessions: our rivals are much more fast than us in pace and on a fast lap,” Lorenzo said.
“Our best position we could do today was third. Tomorrow in the race anything could happen. If something strange happens we can fight for the win but in normal conditions third is a really good position for tomorrow.”
Teammate Rossi continued to struggle under braking and was unable to find a set-up that let him challenge for the front row. He notched the eighth-fastest time.