Takaaki Nakagami was sixth fastest overall on day-one of MotoGP action at Jerez, a track that’s previously brought out the best in the Japanese rider. 

Nakagami had two fourth places in 2020 which were his best results - first of those came during the second Jerez race. 

The impressive element of his performance yesterday was the speed and consistency on used tyres, something that made others including fellow Honda rider Pol Espargaro take note. 

Speaking about this, Nakagami said: "I felt consistent with the lap-time and I could make a 37 with a used Medium. Looks good and I really start to enjoy the bike again and Jerez is one of my favourite tracks. 

"Today was very positive for us. Able to stay in the top ten and of course tomorrow in FP3. 

"We need a few steps to improve, but we have some margin and we are not pushing like crazy. The lap times are consistent and we are in the right direction."

On the topic of his rhythm on used tyres, Espargaro was very impressed and it’s something he will try to use to his advantage during Saturday after analysing the data.

Espargaro added: "Some guys like Taka were performing really well with used medium ones [tyres] and was very similar to when he put the new ones in at the end of the session which happened to a couple of riders, me included.

"I mean he was quite fast and I know he was using something different (old chassis), but I’m not sure if it was a swingarm or whatever, but he was with a different package and was fast. 

"We are going to try and follow his line. I don’t know if we can do it tomorrow. At the end, everything we do is for individual help and then at the end, we can check what the other one does to try and follow. But I need to check with the engineers."

As Espargaro hinted at, there was something different that Nakagami tried compared to the factory Repsol Honda riders. This involved going back and forth with the old chassis (2020) and the new one, which is the one he’s competed with so far this year.

Nakagami’s takeaway having tested both was that the ‘old’ one felt better, but the 2021 option has strong points and can’t be forgotten about. 

He said: "Today was a bit busy because I was trying the two chassis: the new one and the other one and it was a slightly better feeling with the old one. 

"Old chassis has some potential and we have still not decided yet what we will use for the weekend, but tonight I will decide with the team and HRC. 

"I need to clear the mind to see the data more deeply. The first impression is that the old chassis – 2020 – has potential but we cannot forget about 2021 because some areas like handling and corner entry has some potential. 

"We have a lack of rear confidence because in Qatar and Portimao we were trying to improve rear grip and stability but always we couldn’t find the solution. That’s why we tried all the chassis. 

"The first impressions is we have more grip and that’s positive and what we were missing this season. 

"Our lap-times are really consistent like we had at the end of last season. It looks good, but I need to understand it more deeply and the 2021."

 

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