Takaaki Nakagami admits he is feeling pressure to fly the flag for Honda in Marc Marquez’s absence, despite being one of only three riders on the 2020 MotoGP World Championship grid with 2019 machinery.

The Japanese rider enjoyed his strongest weekend yet in MotoGP last time out in Jerez with a career-best run to fourth position, while he topped two practice sessions for LCR Honda in the run up to qualifying too.

His timely upturn in form came on a weekend Honda was compromised by Marquez’s eventual absence, together with Cal Crutchlow’s wrist injury and rookie Alex Marquez’s modest ongoing transition from Moto2 to MotoGP machinery.

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With Marquez not racing in Brno or the Red Bull Ring – according to Nakagami – and Crutchlow still recovering, the LCR rider admits he is feeling the weight of expectation heading to Brno to replicate his Jerez form, even though he is doing so on a year-old satellite Honda RC213V.

Even so, Nakagami is viewing it as an opportunity to prove his worth in MotoGP and insists he is being well supported by HRC.

“There is a lot of pressure for the result because it is something they [Honda] need. Unfortunately, Marc is not here and not for Austria, and my team-mate Cal had an injury in Jerez and Alex is a rookie so they have a lot of pressure for me. They need a good result for the constructors’ for the Honda.

“I feel a lot of pressure, but I am enjoying this moment and there is great support from the team and HRC. Everything is there to push 100% and get a good result.”

Revealing in Jerez that a move towards Marquez’s unique set-up and riding style assisted his performance gains, he describes how under braking he has made a particular step forward.

“It is not easy to copy but from HRC’s side they help during the weekend and we deeply checked Marc’s data from the first race and on the braking I found a completely different way to stop the bike, so in the second race we tried it in every session.

“It was not easy to feel if it was correct but when I checked the lap times I was getting better and better, so when I am riding the bike I am feeling a lot more confidence.

“It is difficult o explain but he has a lot of work on a special riding style for the braking, but hopefully we will adapt for the season and now I’ve found a good way to improve on braking so I will keep going like this.”