Takaaki Nakagami says he is “sad” that he again missed out on scoring a maiden MotoGP podium finish after battling for second in the early laps of the Dutch TT.
The LCR Honda racer started well from fourth as he made his way past pole-man Maverick Vinales into Turn 1 for the first time, before challenging a fading Francesco Bagnaia’s Ducati for the runners-up placing across the opening half of the Assen encounter.
Despite passing Bagnaia a couple of times-including a brave move at Turn 15 that saw him fly around the outside-he struggled to make a move stick as he fell victim to the Desmosedici’s power advantage, while a small mistake at Turn 14 on the 14th tour meant he lost momentum and dropped to fifth.
A further mistake at Turn 1 just a couple of circulations later saw him fall to his eventual finishing position of ninth, a result that leaves Nakagami feeling “sad” as he enters the five-week summer break still without a premier class podium finish.
“The start of the race went really well, I had a great start and was running in P3 behind Fabio (Quartararo) but after a few laps he tried to go away and then I was behind (Francesco) Bagnaia,” said Nakagami.
“It was really difficult to overtake him, definitely in sector 3 I was much faster than him but always on the main straight the Ducati is like a rocket and could always keep position in second.
“I was trying to work out how to overtake him, and then I can’t remember which lap but in the middle of the race I made a big mistake which cost me a lot and I dropped a few positions, and then it was almost game over because everyone is very similar in terms of speed and very consistent so it’s very difficult to catch up again.
“I’m a bit sad to end up with P9, it’s not the best feeling but I’m happy that at the beginning of the race we were strong.”
Despite the disappointment of missing out on the rostrum at Assen the Japanese ace was at least “happy” with the speed he displayed, adding that he was looking forward the double header at the Red Bull Ring in Austria that kicks off the second half of the campaign due to having a “good feeling” at the venue.
He looked odds-on for at least a second place finish in the Styrian Grand Prix last year as he pulled well clear of his rivals behind, and at one point even started to close down leader Joan Mir before an untimely red flag robbed him of a strong result due to having no new tyres when the race finally re-started unlike his competitors.
“I always aim to finish on the podium and we were a little unlucky, but I’m happy with the performance but it is what it is and now I’m really looking forward until after the summer break in Austria,” continued Nakagami.
“I’m excited to go there because normally I have a good feeling there, I was fast last season so we’ll keep pushing.”