When Marc Marquez fell from the lead of Sunday's French MotoGP at Le Mans, it promoted fellow Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami to third place.

But the LCR rider knew he had a tough task on his hands to keep hold of a potential first premier-class podium, with all the RC213V riders lacking rear grip in the rain.

"After I changed the bike in the flag-to-flag I was P4, and after Marc crashed I was P3, but I saw that there were 17 laps to go and I was thinking it's going to be tough," Nakagami said.

"I tried to do my best, but I knew that a podium was difficult, because in the wet condition we don't have the pace to fight for the podium.

"Dry conditions we have pace, and I'm really comfortable on the bike. Wet conditions, I have no feeling from the rear grip, especially from braking to turn in.

"The exit of the corner is good, but braking into the apex is where we struggle to find rear grip. As you can see [in warm-up], Pol and Marc had exactly same crash at Turn 3, and I had the same moment in many laps.

"So I think all together the Honda family need to understand what happened in the wet conditions, and we need to find a solution for the future.

"During practice and warm up we modified the bike for wet conditions, but unfortunately I didn't feel any difference in the race. I felt like on ice and I had zero grip on the rear."

Nonetheless, Nakagami remained in third place for seven laps during the middle stages of the grand prix and only lost positions when the track began to dry.

"Lap by lap I think in the middle of race, the conditions started to get drier and drier, I was not able to follow Zarco or even the other riders, and I was struggling more than the other guys," Nakagami said.

"A bit disappointed to drop to P7 at the end, but at least I gave my best all this race. I didn't make any mistakes, I stayed on the bike, and I saw the chequered flag. So I'll take the positives and good experience from this weekend, and I'm really looking forward to Mugello."

Nakagami not only lost out on a podium but also top Honda honours, having been overtaken by team-mate Alex Marquez with eight laps to go.

The Spaniard, who had qualified just 19th, eventually finished in sixth place for his best result of the season so far.

"Today was a good day for us, especially with these changed conditions that we had during the race. So I was there, really trying to be really smooth in the beginning, but the key point I think was when it started raining and we were still with the dry tyres.

"In that lap, I took a lot of risk, I recovered a couple of positions, so that was the key. Then it's true that I went out with medium front and soft rear. And it was the right decision for those conditions, but unfortunately at the end, it was too dry in the track.

"It's true that 8 laps to the end, it was a possibility to go in and go with the slicks. If it's 12, 13 laps to the end, it's possible, but 8 or 9 laps to the end, it was really difficult to recover that time.

"So I think it was the right decision that we did it and unfortunately we were not with the medium rear, but it's like this. You take your cards and you try to play it. So happy with that, but not happy with the overall weekend, because we are struggling quite a lot and I was not really comfortable on the bike.

"But this result gives us a better way and better motivation to keep going in Mugello and Montmelo, two very different tracks compared to Jerez and Le Mans. So hopefully the story can change a little bit, and I will be a little bit better there. Why not?

"But still I think in the dry we need to make a lot of work, and I need to work a lot on my riding style. This year, I don't know why, with our package I'm not feeling really really good on corner entry, and last year I was feeling really good in that moment.

"So we will try in Mugello to understand more, and maybe there that feeling can be better from the beginning."

After five rounds, Nakagami is ninth in the world championship with 28 points and Alex Marquez 14th on 18 points.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...