Marc Marquez exiting the pit during the free practice session at the Indianapolis GP. He took the pole position and won the race last year, will he be able to do it again this year? - EPA
INDIANAPOLIS (AFP): World champion Marc Marquez stormed to his eighth pole position of the season for the Indianapolis Grand Prix where he will be chasing a perfect 10th win in 10 races.
The Spaniard clocked 1:31.619 on his Honda with Andrea Dovizioso in second place on a Ducati, 0.225sec off the pace.
Jorge Lorenzo, Aleix Espargaro and Valentino Rossi filled out the top five places on the grid for the race.
Marquez, who won at the Brickyard last year as a rookie in the elite class, now has 17 poles in 28 races in MotoGP.
"This afternoon, I felt so good," said Marquez. "In the qualifying and practice, I'm happy for the pole because after holidays, to get confidence again, it's important.
"Our pace is high and if it's dry I think we can fight for the victory. The tyres will be a big decision, especially for the rear."
Marquez said that he changed from soft tyres in Saturday's practice run to hard tyres for the afternoon qualifying.
"Tomorrow, (it) depends on the temperature," Marquez added. "This morning, the rhythm with the soft tires was so good. This afternoon, with the hard tires, was also good. With both options, I feel comfortable."
Dovizioso, whose only other front-row start this season came in France where he started in third place, was 10th at the Indianapolis Grand Prix a year ago.
The Italian's highest finish at the venue came in 2012, when he took third.
Lorenzo, the 2010 and 2012 world champion, won this event in 2009.
He finished behind Marquez and Dani Pedrosa a year ago in a one-two-three finish for Spanish riders.
On Sunday, he'll start in the front row for the fifth time this year.
The MotoGP course, reconfigured for this year's event, drew praise from the riders.
While the course still has 16 turns, the overall length is shorter at 4.17 kilometers (2.59 miles) and turns 3, 4, 7, 15 and 16 have been modified.
Also, the circuit's entire infield section was repaved, to the delight of riders who complained in the past about the bumpy surface.
"It looks like they did a very good job," said seven-time series champion Rossi of Italy.
Five of this year's riders have competed in the previous six MotoGP races at Indianapolis - Rossi, Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Colin Edwards.
The 40-year-old Edwards, who recently announced plans to retire, is the lone US entry in this year's race.