Honda enjoyed its best collective day of the MotoGP season so far at Aragon on Friday, leading both sessions as LCR team-mates Takaaki Nakagami and Cal Crutchlow finished first and third and all four RCVs were inside the top 11.

Following hot on the heels of Alex Marquez's brilliant charge to second in last Sunday's event, some suspected HRC – without a win so far this season - had made some kind of technical breakthrough.

Yet Nakagami said his 2019 bike has changed little since the start of the season and Crutchlow felt it was down to the riders making the difference.

"I think the riders are riding better with Alex and Taka. I feel a little bit better [with the healing forearm] so I'm able to push a little bit more. But people saying that Honda have turned it around, etc etc, I don't believe that's the case," Crutchlow said.

"I believe that every time we get some small information, and the changes are really small, whether they are electronics, or this new shock – as I said, sometimes we use it, sometimes we don't.

"Essentially, we are fast around this circuit at the moment, but as we saw last weekend, it was Alex who made the difference I believe. And again today Alex was really fast and Taka was really fast.

"So I think it's the rider making the difference, because at the moment, if you look at the practices, it's Taka's race to lose by about 11 seconds.

"Because his FP1 pace, if he'd kept that gap that he had, he would win the race by 11 seconds."

Nakagami used the same set of soft front-medium rear tyres throughout FP1, setting a best lap of 1m 48.622s mid-session (which would put him second overall) but was also able to break back into the 1m 48s on his 16th and final lap.

"As you know, nothing's changed for Taka from last week, he hasn't suddenly got a new bike or anything like that. He's just riding well," Crutchlow continued. 

"And as you have been able to see from the last six years, the Honda riders have to ride the bike really aggressively and really hard to be able to go fast and they are doing a really good job of that. So that's it really."

The Englishman believes Nakagami will soon claim his elusive first MotoGP podium but made clear he won't be taking part in any Honda team orders should the Japanese close the 29 point gap to title leader Joan Mir.

"No, I won't be helping anyone. I will try and help myself to get a better result, and that's it," said Crutchlow, who has been replaced by Honda for 2021. "Nothing against Taka, he needs to get a podium first. And I believe he will, he's riding fantastic.

"But they probably also know not to ask me and I have to be fast enough to be in front of him for a start!"

Mir also tipped Nakagami as the rider to beat after Friday practice.

"I'm really surprised about the Hondas, they're really fast. So I think they found something," said the Suzuki star. "I think at the moment, Nakagami is the one who has the better pace, and probably on paper, we are quite close."

 

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