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By Last On The Brakes

Nakagami, learning from Marc Marquez: "Now, it’s natural"

It’s time for the final Last On The Brakes Podcast of the season with LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami

It’s time for the final Last On The Brakes Podcast of 2020. What a ride it’s been in a crazy season and to cap it off, we’ve got the wonderful Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) having a chat about plenty of interesting topics – well worth your time!

Despite missing out on that elusive maiden MotoGP™ podium, Nakagami has had an impressive 2020 campaign and has often flown the Honda flag in the absence of eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). And this year it’s been no secret that Nakagami has been delving into the number 93’s data, to see how the Spanish magician goes about his work. The Japanese star talks about how he’s tried to learn from Marc Marquez in all areas, but especially braking.

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“I’m not a World Champion, I’ve never won MotoGP races or had podiums in MotoGP. I’m in my third year and still no ‘excellent’ results,” comments Nakagami. “So I’m always trying to improve myself, my riding style, my bike setup. So from the first year I’ve always looked at data, especially my teammate, Cal’s. I didn’t change that style. For example, if I’m one second faster than my teammate, I always look at the data still because in some areas, 100% I can find that he’s a little bit faster. There’s always something to find. Of course, the first race in Jerez this year I finished P10. For me it was a really bad result, the race pace, the feeling on the bike, it was really bad for me.

“The next race was coming very soon and I realised I have to change the style because with the 2019 bike, I had the surgery in the winter, physically I was not 100% so I have to change. So the only way was to see Marc’s data. He knows pretty well how to handle the bike… especially last season in 2019, he won many, many races, so why not? If I have a chance, I try to see his data how he manages this bike. Then, I can see many tricks in braking, mid-corner, exit, many things. It was the same bike but on the graphics it was completely different. First time I saw it, I thought “wow, how does he manage?” But then from HRC, Takeo explained very well with the Japanese, analysed the different ways of braking, especially on the braking it’s hugely different how he stops the bike. And then one moment I saw completely different how to stop the bike, I thought ‘OK, I have to do it this way’.

“Of course, it’s not easy to do it, to copy. But I had to try otherwise I would get the same result as Jerez 1. So I always try to adapt, to remember the graphic and how he made it, always thinking about it and it was good. Suddenly I felt that the lucky point after a few laps I felt that I found a kind of ‘Marc style’. I was able to stop very well, it was easy to stop the bike and was easy to get much more feedback on the front, so easier to stop and turn, so I was lucky.

“But I mean, that time I thought I had to try, it was a big risk changing the style. After that I always try to improve and improve. After that I felt that this bike, I have to ride it *this style*. In Jerez 2, I got very close to the podium in P4 then I thought I had keep the style and I cannot go back to ‘my style’. And now, with many races in a row, it’s a natural feeling - it’s not thinking about Marc’s style, it’s thinking about my style.”

Just a small snippet from a magnificent chat with Nakagami, and here’s what else you can look forward to in the last episode of 2020:

- Choosing between 2 and 4 wheels
- The next wave of Japanese racing talent
- Growing the sport at home
- Pressure and how he deals with it
- Why honesty is the best policy
- Kenwood Quickfire

As always, you can listen to this and any other Last On The Brakes episodes on your favoured platform. Thanks for listening and interacting this year… see you in 2021!

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