Under no illusions that the 2023 MotoGP season will be the most important of his career, Nakagami knows that big improvements are needed if he’s to hold off younger talent such as Ai Ogura.

Honda already had thoughts of replacing Nakagami with his fellow countryman last season, however, Ogura chose to remain in Moto2, thus giving Nakagami the chance to remain in the premier class. 

"This year wll be the most important for myself because of the young talent," Nakagami told MotoGP.com. "Ogura won many races in Moto2 and podiums. If I want to stay in this team I need some good results. This is simple. Some podiums, I want to fight for top six, top five, but also the podium."

In order for Honda and Nakagami to challenge for podiums a significant improvement in pace needs to occur, as the Japanese manufacturer struggled across its four riders during pre-season testing. 

However, Nakagami is convinced that Honda has what it takes to fight for the title, especially in the hands of Marc Marquez

"Definitely yes! I believe Honda can win the championship again," added Nakagami. "Everyone believes this and is looking for a big step to improve. Me, Marc [Marquez], Joan [Mir] and Alex [Rins] - they give the maximum to fight for the championship. 

"We cannot step back and fight for the top ten. Of course, Marc and Honda work together and Marc can win the race and the championship again. 

"They had some pressure or tension, that’s why they changed some people in the side. In the last few years it was quite a difficult situation for us. Honda is struggling but now new people arrived."

Nakagami, who is entering his sixth season as a MotoGP rider, is still yet to step onto the podium, however, it’s not been through a lack of talent.

On more than one occasion the Japanese rider has been in contention, and although changes to the current RC213V have not had quite the impact its riders would have wanted, Nakagami is hoping to make that a reality in 2023 even if the changes from last season’s bike to this years’ have not had a big effect.

Nakagami added: "To be honest, I didn’t feel a big, big change [in testing]. But it takes time. I understand that and in only one day we cannot change [completely] the bike and all the systems. I let them [engineers] work better."