Takaaki Nakagami reckons that he has a “bright future” in MotoGP if he can learn to better deal with front-running pressure after crashing early from the Alcaniz Grand Prix.
Having dominated the second Motorland Aragon event-culminating in a debut premier class pole position-Nakagami found himself as favourite for victory in Sunday’s 23-lap contest, though despite holding the lead off the start disaster struck just five corners in as he tucked the front of his Honda and slid out.
The Japanese ace admitted post-race that the added pressure of potentially becoming the first rider from his nation to win in MotoGP since 2004 played on his mind, leading to him “pushing too hard” to make an early gap.
Nakagami says he was “in the zone” right from the start of the Alcaniz GP weekend and “couldn’t believe” the way his race ended so suddenly.
“I was not expecting to end up in the gravel, I’m very disappointed of course and I’m very sorry to the team and everyone,” said Nakagami.
“This weekend we had pretty good performance right from FP1, I was in the zone and before the race I believed that we could win the race but in the end I felt the pressure on me and I couldn’t control it so well.
“It was a good start and I tried to close the door at Turn 1 and tried to stay first, but then I was too fast into Turn 5 as I was trying to push too hard.
“It was a small mistake and I lost the front, I found it difficult to understand and I couldn’t believe myself what happened so of course I’m disappointed.”
The two-time Moto2 victor added that he “now understands more” the pressure to expect should he find himself in a similar position in the future, accepting that he “couldn’t control” his mentality in the early phase of the race.
“I won’t give up, I have no injury so that’s a good thing and we have three races to go and now I will get my head down to be strong in Valencia, this is the way to move on,” continued Nakagami.
“Now I understand more (the pressure) because I’ve never had the chance to stay on top in the past, but now we are and yes this time I felt too much pressure and I couldn’t control my mentality and this caused me to make the mistake.
“However if I can improve this our future is bright, the key point is if I make the same mistake again I’m in trouble but the important thing is to never give up and make sure I’m strong in Valencia.
“I felt so comfortable on the bike this weekend, it was fantastic, so I’m just waiting for another chance and Valencia should be good for the Honda so as always try and be strong from first practice, focus on enjoying the riding and not worrying too much about the result.”
Nakagami’s retirement likely ended any realistic hopes of a late title charge, the LCR rider’s first non-score also bringing his impressive record of completing every race held so far this season in the top ten to an end.
He slipped from fifth to seventh in the riders standings as a result, thus leaving him 45 points down on series leader Joan Mir with just three races to go.