LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami ecstatic with 'great' best ever MotoGP result
Takaaki Nakagami was over the moon after he had achieved his best ever premier class result of fifth in the Italian grand prix at Mugello.
The LCR rider, who competes with last year’s version of Honda’s RC-213V machine, is approaching the mid-point of his second season competing at the sport’s highest level.
He graduated from Moto2, where he scored two victories and a best championship result of sixth over his six seasons competing there, into MotoGP for the 2018 season.
He scored his previous best result at the season finale of the ’18 campaign at Valencia, with sixth. The Japanese ace had to battle hard for his debut top five result however, with Maverick Vinales pushing him hard in the closing stages.
The factory Yamaha man was unable to make inroads however, leaving Nakagami elated to secure his great result in what was a “tough” race, made trickier due to a mistake in qualifying that limited him to tenth on the grid.
“I’m really happy with this result, this weekend we have been quite strong but yesterday I made a mistake in qualifying so I could only get a fourth row start, where I was hoping for maybe a third row,” explained Nakagami.
“However after the start I had a strong pace right from the beginning, which has been a weak point for me.
“Always after the start, the mid part to the end of the race I always catch the group but it’s normally too late.
“This time I tried to change my line and do as much as I could to follow the riders ahead, and it was a great race.
“All the race I could keep the pace, but at the end I couldn’t quite follow the top group but it was a good fight as I was on the limit trying to keep Maverick (Vinales) behind and tried to keep the pace, which I did and secured my best race result and was second Honda. This was a great team effort so massive thanks to the team.”
Nakagami also revealed that he had to push extra hard in the twisty-infield parts of the circuit to combat the straight-line speed deficit of his older-spec Honda engine.
“I know that if I’m alone I can keep the pace, but I lose quite a lot of top speed compared to the factory bike or the Ducati, but I tried to manage my pace through the infield sections where I was really strong compared to the others so I could try and follow them until the end, but it was tough.
“I really struggled on the straight but it’s a great result.”