Tetsuta Nagashima took a 'big step' towards his MotoGP dream by claiming a first grand prix victory at the Qatar Moto2 season opener.

Nagashima's surprise 14-to-1 charge on his Red Bull Ajo debut also marked the first Moto2 win by a Japanese rider since Takaaki Nakagami in 2017.

Nakagami sealed a MotoGP ride the following year, after six seasons and two wins in the intermediate class. Might Nagashima, starting his fifth full Moto2 season, join his compatriot in the not too distant future?

“It was a very important victory for me, since it was a big step on the road to achieving my dream: making it into MotoGP," Nagashima said. "It was very exciting and very emotional to get to the top of the podium, and I am very happy about it.”

Nagashima hadn't finished anywhere on the podium before and, as he held off Lorenzo Baldassarri by 1.345s at the chequered flag, "all I could do was scream.

"Before crossing the finish line, I was unable to think of anything; my mind was blank. However, when it was over, I was filled with immense happiness. I had never felt what I felt then. I was so elated that I just kept screaming inside my helmet.

"I felt like I had a chance to get on the podium, but I didn't think I would win the race. It was unexpected, even for me. It was certainly a pleasant surprise.”

The current halt to racing due to the coronavirus means Nakashima's title lead looks set to be uncontested for at least another two months and the 27-year-old is currently in Japan while awaiting the restart.

“During these weeks in which no grands prix are going to take place, I am going to stay with my family," he said. "These days, I have been playing with my daughters and my son.

"It is a little noisy because the children are always playing, but I love it - because I don’t know how I’d live without them.

"It also helps me to disconnect from racing, which is good because, if you think about something excessively, it ends up putting extra pressure on you. For me, being with my family helps me to relax and escape from it all.

"In terms of training, I like to go running. A few years ago I liked to ride bicycles, but now I prefer other types of sports.”

 

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