Takaaki Nakagami entered his fourth year in the premier class hoping to build on his breakout 2020 season, where he took his first pole position, became a contender for the top six and finished 10th in the drivers’ standings.
However, despite getting access to the latest specification Honda RC213V for the first time in 2021, the Japanese had a disappointing campaign, with just six races in the top 10 and a 15th place overall, although he edged out his teammate. in the LCR, Alex Marquez.
The Japanese driver gave an interview to the Japan edition of Motorsport.com, and Nakagami gave a candid assessment when asked how he would rate his season: “Maybe a 2 out of 10”.
“It’s because with the jump we made last year, both the team and I thought we were going to go forward this season, but instead we’ve fallen backwards.”
“Even though we had a lot of tough races, in others I should have gotten better results, that’s why I give myself such a low grade.”
Nakagami’s year started in the worst possible way as he failed to score points in either event in Qatar and although his fortunes improved with a fourth place at Jerez and a seventh at Le Mans, he was only able to once again be among the top six in all of 2021, at the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.
Explaining his problems, he said: “Like the rest of the Honda riders, we didn’t have enough rear grip, and that affected braking, it made it difficult to find the balance. We couldn’t solve this problem all season, that’s why He had so many complications.”
“There were some tracks where it was better, and we could have good races, like Jerez or Austria, but apart from that, nothing went right for me. We couldn’t get a good result, it was a year full of setbacks,” he acknowledged.
Nakagami faces a crucial 2022 for the renewal of his contract, and it is the first time since he moved up to MotoGP that he has a real threat behind him due to the performances of fellow Japanese Moto2 rider, debutant Ai Ogura .
The 29-year-old Asian stated that mental weakness is one of the elements that needs to be improved, and he plans to start a new training session between now and the start of pre-season testing.
“If I have another year like this, the results will be the same,” Nakagami said. “I can’t stay in this situation any longer, where I need more experience, so if I can improve where I need to move forward, it should all come naturally.”
“As for my speed, I’ve been able to show it in practice, it’s not that I’ve been constantly slow, but I haven’t had good results in the races. I think the sensations of pressure and adrenaline are very different in qualifying and the race.” .
“So it’s important to improve mentally, and with that I want to show my speed and strength next year. I have to recover and make a big step forward.”
“So it’s important to improve mentally and I want to show my speed and strength next year. I have to recover and make a big step forward.”