Takaaki Nakagami: 2024 Honda ‘completely different, easy to reach max performance’

Takaaki Nakagami says the 2024 Honda MotoGP bike is allowing him to reach maximum performance in an easier fashion than last season.

Takaaki Nakagami, Sepang MotoGP test, 7 February
Takaaki Nakagami, Sepang MotoGP test, 7 February

2023 was one of Honda’s worst years in the MotoGP era, and after losing Marc Marquez to Ducati, hope for a big turnaround looked bleak.

But the 2024-spec RC213V has made impressive steps forward and Nakagami is excited about the potential of the bike.

Speaking to MotoGP.com, Nakagami said: “I can clearly see that during the winter break, HRC engineers really worked hard to change everything including the chassis, the engine spec.

“From the outside the bike is completely different to last year’s bike. When I jumped on the bike at the Sepang test all four riders all said that it has much better performance than last year.

“My lap time and also all other Honda riders are improving a lot the lap time. We have a good base but still we are missing some small areas that we can improve.

“But all four Honda riders said the same comments which will really help the development. I’m looking forward to seeing how fast they develop the bike.”

Nakagami, who is now the most experienced rider at Honda following Marquez’s departure, feels as though 2024 is a new challenge.

Nakagami has not been able to replicate his 2020 form in any of the last three seasons, but that hasn’t stopped the Japanese rider from being confident of fighting towards the front.

“The 2024 season is like a new challenge,” added Nakagami. “It’s a new bike but at least I have the same team.

“All the mechanics, members [are the same] so I don’t need to adapt. I’m just focusing on my job which is to bring out the maximum performance from the bike.

“We need to understand what the potential we have in the 2024-spec is.

“We have another two days of testing in Qatar before preparing for the first race. I want to fight the top riders in the race.”

Nakagami excited by one second improvement

Unable to break under the 1m 58s barrier during the Sepang MotoGP last November, Nakagami went a second quicker in testing aboard the new bike.

“The first impression was that the bike has potential,” said an excited Nakagami. “We did the time attack and I improved by more than one second.

“1m 57s is a good lap time. The top guys did another one second faster but I did a 1m 58s last year.

“It’s only been a few days in Sepang but the bike is able to bring the maximum performance and in the braking, corner exit I can push myself.

“Last year, it was a difficult moment and it was hard to reach the maximum performance. But the 2024 bike is quite easy to reach the maximum performance.”

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