Takaaki Nakagami believes he “could have fought” Americas Grand Prix winner Marc Marquez if not for a crash on lap two after showing comparable pace when he rejoined the fray.
Having dropped a couple positions from fifth on the grid off the start, the LCR Honda racer soon moved ahead of Suzuki’s Joan Mir and looked to snatch fifth away from the slow-starting Ducati of Francesco Bagnaia.
He then made a costly error as he hit one of the many large bumps that litter the Circuit of the Americas on the apex of Turn 12 while still turning in, Nakagami losing the front of his RC213-V and going down as a result-dropping all the way to the back a full 34 seconds adrift of race leader Marquez by the time he restarted.
The Japanese pilot displayed scintillating speed from here-on-in though as he lapped at a pace very similar to Marquez, actually crossing the finishing line only 35 seconds behind-meaning he could very well have at least challenged Fabio Quartararo for the runners-up spot and possibly Marquez too.
Nakagami says he is “pretty sad” after seeing the “amazing” speed he was capable of after remounting his machine, the two-time Moto2 race victor reckoning he “could have fought” with the eventual race winner had he not gone down early on.
“I’m pretty sad because all weekend we were in good shape and very competitive in dry conditions, so before the race I was expecting a podium finish,” explained Nakagami.
“After the start I saw Marc (Marquez) try and go away, and the feeling on the bike was quite good so I felt ready to attack and passed Joan Mir and then went for (Francesco) Bagnaia, I felt comfortable on the bike.
“Unfortunately at Turn 12 I hit the big bump at the apex and I lost the front, I didn’t expect the crash during the race.
“I re-joined the race afterwards and I had nothing to lose so I just put in qualifying laps and pushed to the maximum, and it’s a shame because the pace was amazing and it looks like I could have fought with Marc.
“Obviously it’s easy to say after the race, but it was a stupid mistake so I’m sorry for the team but the positive was that the speed was amazing so now I’ll focus on Misano.”