Takaaki Nakagami may have finished a distant 17th at Sunday’s COTA MotoGP, but the LCR Honda rider is sure a debut podium slipped away when he fell on the second lap.
Nakagami crossed the line 35-seconds behind race winner Marc Marquez, but lost 32 of those seconds when he dropped his RCV on the Turn 12 bumps. His best lap, on 14 of 20, was also quicker than everyone but Marquez.
The Japanese admits his pace might have been slightly slower had he been battling with riders at the front. But even so, third place Francesco Bagnaia was 8.5s behind Marquez at the chequered flag, leaving Nakagami to rue what might have been.
“After the start I felt quite good and I was ready to attack. I saw that Marc tried to go away and from the very beginning of the race I had good confidence on braking so I tried to overtake,” said Nakagami, who finished the first lap in sixth place.
“In Turn 12, I was just a few k faster than normal, but the problem was when I hit the bumps at the apex, which is maximum lean angle, unfortunately I lost the front.
“That’s it. I mean it was, maybe I have to say, a stupid mistake and the cost of that small mistake was massive. During the race, of course I was alone, but the pace was really good.
“I think today was easy to get the podium, easy to say but the pace – only Marc did a quite good pace all the race but from Fabio and Bagnaia it was not really fantastic. So it’s a shame I lost another opportunity. I’m really sad about the crash and losing the podium.”
Nakagami, who has finished a career-best fourth three-times since the start of 2020, saw other podium chances slip away with accidents at Aragon and Valencia last season.
Marquez’s team-mate Pol Espargaro went on to finish as the next best Honda rider, in tenth place and 20-seconds from the #93.
Nakagami’s team-mate Alex Marquez was twelfth.