MotoGP rookie Marc Marquez is leading the 2013 championship by 16 points heading into this weekend's Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, and says he's under no real pressure as the 2013 MotoGP season amps up for its second half.
"The pressure is for Lorenzo and Pedrosa," Marquez said during a conference-call interview with journalists this week, but admitting, "Okay, I feel a little bit the pressure, because we are leading the championship."
The 20-year-old rider, now halfway through his first season in the top-tier MotoGP class, has won three races so far this year, including the last two MotoGP rounds and taking the lead in the championship. Marquez has surged into the points lead in part due to injuries suffered by his two main title rivals, two-time Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Dani Pedrosa and reigning World Champion and 2009 Indianapolis winner, Jorge Lorenzo.
Though his Repsol Honda teammate and closest points challenger Dani Pedrosa has won twice at Indy, so has Marquez, taking victory there the last two years in the Moto2 class. "Here in Indianapolis, I won the last two years. That is good news, [and at] Indianapolis, it's always special from its history." Marquez said. "At the moment, I feel so good on the bike, and this is the most important."
At the start of 2013, the Spaniard said he had no ambitions of leading the MotoGP championship in his first season: "I'm surprised; if I'm honest. Okay, the target was try to finish the races and get some points. But, you know, already I won three races. I didn't expect that before the season. Still I need to improve a little bit, because on the qualifying track, I'm struggling a little bit."
Few who have watched the rise of Marquez through the Moto3 and Moto2 ranks can be completely taken aback by his success, and Marquez is thoughtful on his progression."When you are on MotoGP bike, it's a different bike, a different team, because you come with a very big factory," Marquez explained. "But also, outside the track, the fans, the people, the journalists, also it's a big difference compared with Moto2, with Moto3."
"Still, I need to adapt a little bit to that, because it's still sometimes too big for me, but anyway, you know, if you have professional people around you, then it's a little bit easier," Marquez said. "It's so important to have all the fans, because it's important to be there and have fans in the good moments and also in the moments where I'm struggling a little bit more."
Perhaps already grown accustomed to the MotoGP top podium step during his rivals' recuperation, expect some serious fireworks between Marquez, his teammate Dani Pedrosa, and Jorge Lorenzo during this weekend's RedBull Indy GP. Sunday's two-wheeled brickyard brawl is almost certain to serve as prologue to the season's second act, and whether Marc Marquez will cement his latest role as championship leader.
The MotoGP race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 18. Catch all of the action on the new Fox Sports 1 channel and SpeedTV.com. To watch the race live at the Brickyard, click here for ticket info.
For spectators riding to Indy from the Chicago-area, head out with freestyle street bike rider Aaron Colton. Leaving Soldier Field at noon on Friday, August 16th, Aaron will lead a rally down to Indianapolis Motor Speeday that concludes with a victory lap around the track. Click here for more info.
For real time updates from MotoGP Indianopolis this weekend, follow Red Bull Indy on Twitter.