Takaaki Nakagami says he is “confident” that he can turn second on the grid into a first ever MotoGP rostrum result in the Styrian Grand Prix.
Nakagami has made strides with his 2019-specification Honda RC213-V since moulding his riding style more to the liking of reigning six-time premier class champion Marc Marquez during the Andalucian GP weekend, the two-time Moto2 victor having been a regular fixture in the top five of the timesheets ever since.
He scored his best ever result of fourth in the Andalucian contest at Jerez before adding a further pair of top eight results at Brno and last weekends event at the Red Bull Ring, before qualifying a career-best second for Sunday’s second Austrian outing.
The LCR racer reckons he has a good chance of converting his front-row start into a first podium of the season for Honda, adding the fact that he has “enjoyed every lap” on his machine this weekend stands him in good stead for achieving this goal.
“This weekend I have so much confidence on the bike, across all sessions and conditions, morning and afternoon I am able to adapt by the end of every session, so why not (score a podium),” said Nakagami following qualifying at the Red Bull Ring.
“I have a lot of pressure from HRC but I’m enjoying it, I feel really good on the bike, especially this weekend I’ve enjoyed every lap which is really important for the race and I didn’t feel very tired after 15 laps, so I should still have some energy to finish the race strongly.
“Let’s see I’ll try my best and if I can get a podium we will celebrate and if not we’ll see, but I’m confident we’ll reach the podium.”
Nakagami also went into detail on the breakthrough he made with the RC213-V at the second Jerez round, highlighting his improved braking method more akin with Marquez’s infamous aggressive style as the main source of his improved competitiveness with the tricky Honda.
“Nothing special (clicked with bike), from Jerez race two we tried to move my style closer to (Marc) Marquez, every session we tried many things to adapt with the ’19 bike because the bike isn’t so easy to ride, I need to use a lot of energy during the race.
“There are many tricks (to taming the Honda), it’s not easy to ride but if you have a bit of confidence in the braking zones there is a lot of potential.
“I felt that really understanding how I have to ride this bike has helped, and if I need to make lap-time the bike is working really well, especially this weekend we are really consistent across both the race pace and qualifying laps.”