Takaaki Nakagami says he was left with “mixed feelings” after finishing just 0.690s away from a maiden rostrum result in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Nakagami reverted to the ’20 spec Honda RC213-V for the Jerez encounter following crunch talks with Honda regarding his tough first three events of the campaign ahead of the weekend, the Japanese ace immediately showing improved form in Spain as he topped FP3 before qualifying a strong fifth.
He managed to back up his pre-race pace during the 25-lap Jerez contest as he lapped close in performance to the leader throughout, even closing onto the rear of third-placed Franco Morbidelli in the closing stages before running out of time-matching his best ever MotoGP result of fourth in the process.
He was also the highest classified Honda pilot as the field took the chequered flag, crossing the line just over seven second clear of ninth-placed Marc Marquez in the end.
The LCR rider admitted he had “mixed feelings” despite his performance upswing after his rough start to the ’21 term, Nakagami’s wait for a first ever podium appearance continuing onwards towards Le Mans in two weeks time where he feels he has “good potential” for another strong run.
“I had mixed feelings after the race, but overall I’m proud of myself for my performance this weekend because we struggled in the previous races,” said Nakagami.
“Here in Jerez we definitely found the right direction and a good feeling on the bike from Friday, the race pace was pretty fast but we were able to follow the leading guys.
“For many laps I was behind Aleix (Espargaro) and trying to find a place to overtake him, but every lap I couldn’t find a place to do it and I was running out of ideas.
“But then Fabio (Quartararo) started to drop back towards us, and because the leaders had all split into three groups I realised it was the last chance to be able to maybe overtake the riders ahead.
“I tried to overtake Aleix at Turn 4 but then got him at five, then I could get Fabio at Turn six (straight after) so this (overtake) was a good one.
“At the end of the race I tried to push hard to catch Franco (Morbidelli), but in the end we missed the six-tenths to get the first podium, but P4 is still a great result anyway so I have mixed feelings but I’m looking forward to Le Mans as I know we have good potential.”