57 races into his premier-class career and a debut MotoGP podium continues to elude Takaaki Nakagami.

An LCR Honda rider since his debut 2018 season and upgraded to the latest-spec RCV this season, Nakagami has qualified in the MotoGP top-three on four occasions (including one pole position) but is yet to repeat the feat in a race.

The nearest Nakagami has come to spraying the champagne is a trio of fourth places, most recently at Jerez this season, whule he was holding a podium position for the opening half of the recent Dutch TT.

However, the Japanese struggled to break clear of Francesco Bagnaia's Ducati and a mistake later dropped him to ninth.

"Every race I'm aiming to get the podium of course," Nakagami said. "Before the Assen race I felt it was a great opportunity and in the beginning I was P3, behind Bagnaia and fighting for the podium. But this time again no, the mistake…

"I don’t know exactly which lap but at Turn 1 and dropped positions. I'm disappointed in myself. Then from that mistake it was very difficult to catch up because everyone had the same lap time."

It means Nakagami starts the summer break holding eleventh in the world championship, with 41 points to his name. Figures that don't compare favourably with fifth in the standings and 81 points after the same number of rounds last season, when on a year-old RCV.

"Difficult to give a number but around 3.5 or 4 [out of 10]. Less than 5," was how Nakagami summed up his 2021 campaign so far. "Not the best performance in this first part of the season, but a good thing is that after Montmelo the feeling came back little-by-little.

"I feel confidence again so I don’t need the summer break [now], I want to continue racing! Anyway, let's see in Austria. Hopefully we can restart and fight for the podium in all the remaining races."

Nakagami had been unable to follow eventual Assen winner Fabio Quartararo past Bagnaia in the early stages of the Dutch race, leaving the Japanese embroiled in a spirited battle with the Ducati rider over second.

The ease with which Bagnaia was able to re-pass Nakagami was particularly frustrating.

"I'm disappointed about P9 but I'm happy about the performance at the beginning of the race. It was just difficult to overtake and stay in front of Bagnaia because they have like a rocket on the straight," Nakagami said.

"I was behind Quartararo and tried to do the same as he did to overtake Bagnaia. I was faster in the Turn 12, 13 14 area. It was only there I could try but always after the chicane, even before the finish line, he was alongside me and it was easy for him to overtake again.

"I think you can see clearly on TV how different [the acceleration was out of the last chicane] and hopefully Honda understand how difficult it is for us and hopefully they need to improve the bike. This is so difficult to make a strategy in the race.

"Anyway, still we have many races to go and after the summer break Austria for myself is really nice track and I'm really looking forward to that. I have good motivation and let's keep working with HRC to develop the bike. This is really necessary for us."

Nakagami did not have the new chassis available to factory Repsol riders Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro at Assen.

"[At Assen] I had a good feeling on the bike, did a good qualifying lap and the race pace was consistent," Nakagami said.

"But nothing has changed on our bike after the Montmelo test. Some adjustment but no new parts and we are working on that. Let's see in Austria, a completely different track with less grip, but it all depends on the tyre allocation."

Despite missing the opening Qatar rounds, Marc Marquez is the top Honda rider with tenth in the MotoGP world championship. Espargaro is tied with Nakagami while Alex Marquez is in 15th position.

Honda is presently fifth and ahead of only Aprilia in the constructors' standings, despite Marc Marquez's Sachsenring victory.

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