August 07, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Jorge Lorenzo finally put Marc Marquez in an unfamiliar position at Indianapolis -- second.

Now Lorenzo hopes to do the same thing twice this weekend.

On Friday, the Spanish riders renewed their rivalry at the historic Brickyard, and this time Lorenzo barely held the upper hand. He completed the 2.591-mile, 16-turn course in 1 minute, 32.860 seconds. Two-time defending world champion Marc Marquez was second in 1:32.863, setting up another intriguing head-to-head qualifying contest Saturday.

''I think we have our bike this year, and we have to take some profit of it,'' Lorenzo said. ''This track now is, as I told you, more flowing. We can have a greater opportunity.''

It was a rare stumble for Marquez, who has been virtually unbeatable on American soil since joining the MotoGP circuit full-time in 2013.

He's won six straight U.S. races, claimed five of those poles turned the historic Brickyard into a de facto home track.

Marquez has won four straight times at Indy -- 2011 and 2012 in Moto2 and the last two on the more powerful motorcycles in the top series.

During that four-year run, he has taken three poles, won in two different series, on two differently configured tracks and on two different surfaces. And he hasn't started worse than second in an Indy race since 2009 when he was still competing in what is now called Moto3.

''It's a track that I understand and is working well,'' Marquez said. ''I'm enjoying this track and everything will be more and more tight, and we must work hard if we want to repeat the results we had last year.''

While Marquez has been nearly flawless here, Lorenzo has endured nothing but frustration since winning the race in 2009.

He still has not claimed a pole here and has had a series of close calls.

He qualified second and finished third, behind Marquez, in 2013 and started third and finished second in 2014, nearly two seconds behind Marquez yet again. Lorenzo also finished second in 2012, fourth in 2011 and third in 2010.

If Lorenzo wants to change that trend he may need to hold off Marquez again Saturday. The last four Indy winners started from the pole.

And if anyone is going to stop Marquez's incredible streak, he figures the other two-time world champ poses the biggest threat.

''It looks like Jorge had a good day,'' Marquez said. ''We are very close, but it looks like he's very strong. We will try to improve and get ready for a good battle.''

The two riders aren't the only rivals mixing it up.

With Lorenzo competing for Movistar Yamaha and Marquez working for Repsol Honda, the engine makers are back at it, too.

Yamahas won the first two races at Indy. Repsol Honda has won the last five.

Who else might challenge Lorenzo and Marquez?

Perhaps the Italian teammates from Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso was third fastest Friday in 1:33.155. Andrea Iannone was fourth in 1:33.166.

Points leader Valentino Rossi, another Italian and winner of the inaugural Indy race in 2008, had a rougher day. He finished 10th in 1:33.532.

Former world champion Nicky Hayden, the only American in the race, was 16th in practice with a time of 1:34.397.

But the focus in qualifying and again during Sunday's race will be on whether Marquez can win the next round of his Indy duel with Lorenzo.

''I think one thing, one important thing is that I have a lot of left corners and from what I understand this is good,'' Marquez said. ''It looks like USA is a good sequence for me.''

Notes: Ten riders in the three series either crashed or fell off their bikes Friday, but nobody was seriously injured. Only one rider -- Spain's Jorge Navarro -- needed help to walk away. He competes in Moto3.

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