Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) had another impressive weekend in Texas, narrowly missing out on a Q2 spot on Saturday, before taking points for the second consecutive race on Sunday – finishing P14 and top rookie.
The Japanese rider now has five points from the opening three rounds of the season, a solid start for the rookie who sits just one point behind last season’s Moto2™ World Champion Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). After the race, Nakagami was positive about his weekend’s work. “It was another points finish which I think is positive. But after our qualifying result we were thinking about the possibility of finishing in the top 10, but the race proved to be quite difficult,” said the 26-year-old.
The Circuit of the Americas is a notoriously difficult track to master, especially when you’re there on a MotoGP™ bike for the first time. Despite the P14 finish, crossing the line nearly 12 seconds clear of next best rookie Thomas Luthi (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Nakagami admitted he was hoping for a better result.
“We have to take the positives from this, it’s another two points in the championship. Honestly, I was hoping in a better result but finishing as the best rookie is a nice feeling. Thanks again to my Team and Honda for the great job they have done this weekend for me and I’m looking forward to the next race.”
In pre-season, those sorts of results looked like they would be coming from the off for the number 30, with the Honda rider finishing tenth overall at the Thailand test – the fastest debutant. Despite not getting any points on the board at the first race in Qatar, Nakagami was less than two seconds off scoring points in his first ever GP race, after ending Friday practice as the fastest rookie.
Saturday in Argentina didn’t go to plan for the Japanese rider, qualifying 24th, but Nakagami produced a stunning display to finish the race 13th in tricky conditions. Couple that with a solid Texas ride, and the signs are there for ‘Taka’ to break into the top ten in Europe.
Will Nakagami be the fastest rookie in Jerez? Find out when the MotoGP™ bikes light up the Spanish hills on Friday 4th of May.