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Dark Horses 2007: Shinya Nakano

Dark Horses 2007: Shinya Nakano

Dark Horses 2007: Shinya Nakano

Shinya Nakano makes he switch to Konica Minolta Honda this year, and the talented Japanese rider could be one of the surprise packages of the 2007 season. It will be his first season behind the bars of a Honda, after three seasons as the leading rider for Kawasaki.

Nakano has always shown great potential, although he has suffered some frustrating setbacks in the premier class. Renowned for being a consistently fast qualifier, "Super Shinya" started from the front row on four occasions in 2006, but sometimes dropped down the pack when mechanical circumstances left him wanting. On one of his front row appearances, Nakano earned his best ever finish in MotoGP, at Assen when he moved up one step on the podium due to an unexpected crash from leader Colin Edwards. His previous best position had come in his debut season for Kawasaki, when he took third at his home Grand Prix at Motegi.

One of Nakano's best opportunities to win a MotoGP race came in Australia, when he stormed to the front of the pack and broke away in the early stages. The appearance of rain, and the first ever flag-to-flag situation, left the Kawasaki man on his own as the riders behind him headed to pit lane to change their bikes. By the time Nakano had come in to swap his, he had already dropped off the pace as a result of having inappropriate tyres for wet conditions. He would eventually finish eighth.

The move to Konica Minolta Honda could be the breakthrough that Nakano needs to achieve his main goal for 2007: winning a MotoGP race before he hits 30. With a pedigree in 250cc, including a runner-up spot in 2000, and strong backing from Honda, the 800cc era could play right into the talented rider's hands.

MotoGP, 2007, Shinya Nakano

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