Takaaki Nakagami concedes he’s struggled for fitness throughout the Sepang test on his comeback from shoulder surgery which restrained his workload for LCR Honda.

The Japanese rider opted to miss the final three rounds of the 2019 MotoGP campaign plus the two post-season tests in Valencia and Jerez for shoulder surgery, similar to what Marc Marquez and Miguel Oliveira have also undergone this winter, in order to be fit for the start of this season.

On his first return to MotoGP action since his operation, Nakagami feels both his performances and lap times throughout the Sepang test were hampered by his shoulder recovery which limited his progress for LCR Honda. On the combined times, Nakagami was 23rd fastest and 1.511s off the pace of leader Fabio Quartararo.

“It is difficult to say clearly whether it is a difficult bike or not because first of all my physical condition is not 100% and now it looks like less than 60%, more 55-60%,” Nakagami said comparing his RC213V to the previous specification he rode at the end of 2019.

“This track especially is quite physical in its layout and some sectors I am completely not able to use the dynamic riding style. So as you can see the lap time is quite slow so we have many things to improve.

“So in this moment it is difficult to say if this bike is a difficult bike or not. Of course it has a different feeling compared to 2018 and 2019. In some areas of course there are some positives and in some areas it feels more physical and the handling is heavier. Difficult to say. If I get ready to be back to 100% then I can truly comment but at the moment I cannot say as it is too early.”

Nakagami was the first of the injured trio to undergo shoulder surgery, on October 30, and returned to riding a minibike on January 22. The normal recovery period for the injury is four-to-six months but Nakagami, Marquez and Oliveira are all aiming to be fully fit in three months.

“The first day there was a lot of pain, but the second day and third day were better and today we were able to get close to 50 laps,” Nakagami said. “Still the lap time is not the best and we have to improve that, but we were able to test many items and it’s quite a positive result for the feeling of the bike.

“Now I’m going back to Japan for close to two weeks, so I’ll try to get some rest and hopefully be a little bit better for the Qatar test. We still have a lot of work to do and things to improve on the bike for my riding style, but let’s see what we do in Qatar.”

Nakagami and the rest of the MotoGP grid returns to action at the Qatar test on February 22-24.