Marc Márquez continued his sensational debut season in MotoGP at the Brno Circuit in the Czech Republic Sunday, beating his teammate and compatriot Dani Pedrosa into second place by three hundredths of a second. It was Márquez’s fourth straight victory this season and his fifth overall, a record for a rookie.
No rider other than Kenny Roberts had ever won four races in a debut season (1978) and with seven left to run, Márquez is now in pole position to emulate the American rider in lifting the world championship at his first attempt.
Reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo was fastest out the blocks at Brno, charging from fifth on the grid to first at the opening curve and then opening up a sizeable lead on his rivals. But Márquez and Pedrosa gradually reeled their countryman in and made their move with seven laps to go.
Márquez twisted and turned, seeking a chink in the defensive armor of Lorenzo, who initially staved the youngster’s attempts off. The two riders jousted for supremacy but eventually Márquez was able to squeeze through with four laps to go.
I had fun too - but I didn't smile quite so much as him..." Kenny Roberts
Lorenzo was still to face another affront to his pride as the Honda Repsol of Pedrosa cut inside with two laps remaining to relegate the champion to third. Rossi was fourth but the title is beyond the Italian now. Márquez leads on 213 points with colleague Pedrosa on 187 and Yamaha’s Lorenzo third on 169 points.
At the Indianapolis circuit last week, Kenny Roberts made sure he had a front-row seat to watch the MotoGP race. He wanted to catch a glimpse of Marc Márquez, the 20-year-old Spanish rookie, and the man (or "kid," as the Spanish media prefers to call him) who is beginning to equal all of Roberts' records.
"He's different from the rest," Roberts said of Márquez, who has managed to pull out a lead on the championship table in just his first year in the category. "The way he slides the bike, he manages to reach an angle that I never could, because the tires are nothing like they were then. He's got something the others haven't," the American former rider and team owner said.
Roberts was the king of the dirt track, something that gave him a spectacular style when cornering. He looked on with admiration as he watched Márquez ease his way to his fourth win of the season at Indianapolis last Sunday. "It's incredible how mature he is," Roberts said.
"King Kenny," as Roberts was known, was the first American to win a 500cc title, and he managed that feat during his debut year, back in 1978. He remains the only rider to have managed a first-year victory — for now. If Márquez sees out the rest of the season the way he has been performing up until now, he could become the second rider to do so.
"What I like about him most is that he has fun," said Roberts last Sunday. "I had fun too - but I didn't smile quite so much as him..."
This article has been corrected to state that it was Kenny Roberts, and not Valentino Rossi, who held the record for four wins in a rookie MotoGP season.