Takaaki Nakagami was left with “mixed feelings” after matching his best ever result of fourth in the European Grand Prix, ruing the fact it is “not a podium”.
The LCR Honda racer remained within the leading group throughout the entirety of the 27-lap contest held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, though dropped from his third-place grid spot to fifth in the early-goings.
Nakagami was able to unleash his now-customary late race performance to recover to fourth after dispatching Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira, but just ran out of time to catch KTM’s Pol Espargaro and Alex Rins’ Suzuki ahead.
He took the chequered flag just 0.991 behind Espargaro after lapping consistently faster than all three men in front of him in the closing laps, though the three-time Moto2 race winner lamented post-race that he didn’t quite have “enough” to finally claim a debut premier class rostrum.
“I’ve got mixed feelings (about the race), it was a great race and I had good pace, especially at the end of the race,” said Nakagami.
“I was the fastest man and I tried to close the gap to (Alex) Rins and Pol (Espargaro), but it was not enough.”
“Besides that it was a great race and I gave my best, P4 is good but is not a podium.
“I’m looking forward to the next one here in Valencia next weekend, the only way forward is to keep believing in my team and myself, we have a great bike and hopefully we’ll be a bit stronger next time out.”
Despite still being the only man within the top 16 in the 2020 MotoGP riders standings yet to score a podium finish, Nakagami has already eclipsed his personal-best season points total by over 30 with two races still remaining in this year’s Covid-19 shortened schedule.
He looked set to dominate the Alcaniz GP after posting top two times in all four practice sessions across Friday and Saturday morning, before securing a first ever premier class pole in qualifying.
He backed this up with a run to the fastest time in Sunday morning warm-up ahead of the race, though his charge in the contest ended early after crashing at Turn 5 on the opening lap.
Series leader Joan Mir’s European GP win eliminated Nakagami from mathematical title contention, though the Japanese ace’s impressive consistency sees him just 20 points down on joint second placed men Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins in eighth overall with only two races remaining.