Nakagami: ‘The bike and I need to improve’, expects step during race weekend

What could be his last season in MotoGP should he fail to deliver the kind of results Honda expect, Takaaki Nakagami has already confessed that another ‘step forward’ is needed.
Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda MotoGP Portimao 2023
Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda MotoGP Portimao 2023

Like six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, Joan Mir and new teammate Alex Rins, Nakagami has seen Honda bring a raft of new parts for the 2023 season.

However, the desired effect from those upgrades has not taken place as of yet, as the performance increase needed to challenge the likes of Ducati and Aprilia was not there in Sepang or Portimao.

Of course, testing is completely different to a race weekend and Nakagami is hoping that when competitive racing begins, Honda will find themselves higher up the order.

But in order for that to happen the Japanese rider, who was expected to be replaced by fellow countryman Ai Ogura before the Moto2 runner-up decided to stay in the middleweight class, admits he and the bike need to improve. 

"The three days in Sepang and the two days here [Portimao] haven’t been easy, but today, in terms of lap times, everything is very tight, the gap has reduced, and we’ve taken a step," said the LCR Honda rider after day-two in Portimao. 

"The feedback with the bike is better, but both the bike and I need to improve. We could take another step forward during the race weekend, so let’s keep working. The team has done a good job as always."

Fernandez ‘able to replicate’ late race pace in MotoGP already?

Perhaps coming to the end of his MotoGP career after this season, Nakagami finds himself in a very different situation to Augusto Fernandez, with the Spaniard set to debut in the premier class with GASGAS Tech 3 KTM. 


After a strong test in Sepang, Fernandez felt as though race pace was one of the areas he needed to confirm as a strong point.

Often able to find late race pace compared to his rivals in Moto2 last season, the Spaniard seems to have continued that trend heading into his opening race as a MotoGP rider.

Speaking after the test, Fernandez said: "We had a good morning and made good progress with the bike. We did a race simulation and I am happy because I had a good race pace and felt good physically. 

"I was able to understand more things about the bike, such as tyre management and how to ride it in race conditions. In Moto2, I was always very good towards the last part of the races, so it is good that I am also able to replicate this to the MotoGP class. 

"In the afternoon, we worked on a time-attack and I think that we still have a lot of work to do to understand how to get the maximum of new soft tyres."

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