Yesterday the announcement of his renewal with Honda and the certainty of having a factory bike for next year, today the best time in free practice: the weekend is starting in the best possible way for Takaaki Nakagami. The Japanese rider from the LCR team has not yet managed to get on the podium this year, but the classification says that, 29 points behind Mir, he is still in the running for the World Championship.
“Before each race I say that I want my first podium, but I haven't managed to get on it yet - smiled Taka - But I'm still in the running for the championship, because regularity is important this season. So far I am happy and I believe that the results will come. I am confident for this weekend, yesterday the announcement of my renewal arrived and my mind is completely free, no stress. I feel like a child, with this bike I’m enjoying myself like a child and it's time to aim for the podium. To do this I'll just have to give my best ”.
Today there were 4 Hondas in the top 11, what happened?
"Many people ask me, but there is no secret. I started FP1 with last Sunday's set-up, I tried the medium tyre on the rear and I managed to keep a good pace, we are on the right path. Even with the soft I did a good time, but I think we can still improve on the flying lap, especially as regards the electronics. But I don't forget the Yamahas and the Suzukis, or even Miller, they all know how to be very fast in qualifying ”.
Last Sunday you saw that Alex Marquez was able to keep tighter lines than you, did you understand how he did it?
“I looked at his data, but you can't see the trajectories from there (laughs). He manages to carry more speed into corners, but it is also due to his riding style. It's more difficult for me, I could do it in qualifying, but I think if I tried it in the race it would put more stress on the tyres and I'm a bit worried from that point of view. I have to find my way, also because I’m using a different bike and set-up than his ”.
Has your Honda received any updates in recent races?
“There have been some evolutions, but the chassis is exactly the same, I only have new suspension. Above all, I’ve understood how to ride it, I changed my riding style and tried to adapt to the bike, that's all, there is no secret. If I have to summarize: it was more me who adapted to the bike than the other way around ”.
You were talking about suspension: you are using the new Ohlins monoshock…
“From this weekend on both bikes. In the last one I still did not understand it well, but today I only felt positive aspects. It makes the rear more stable, the bike jumps less and the slide is smoother. On the flying lap there is not a big difference, but in the race it is a little help ".
Does it make the Honda easier to ride?
“Many riders say that my bike, the 2019 one, is not the easiest and it's true, but if you push to the maximum it has great potential. I agree with Alex Marquez when he says you have to give 100% in every area, if you relax it's easy to crash or be slow. It is not easy to maintain concentration for 40 minutes, but I enjoy riding it "
Crutchlow tried the hard rear tyre today, are you thinking about it too?
“If tomorrow the temperatures are higher I will do it, I think in FP4. I would like to try that option on the front as well, because with the medium we are a bit at the limit. I would like to understand if it is possible to use it ”.