Takaaki Nakagami feels ‘extra pressure’ to save race

The Japanese rider is out of contract at the end of 2022 and his place is currently threatened by young Moto2 star Ai Ogura.

Ogura has scored three podiums since moving to Moto2 in 2021 with Honda Team Asia and is currently second in the standings.

The Idemitsu-backed side of Nakagami from the LCR garage is purpose-built for a Japanese rider, with Ogura – whose Moto2 team is also sponsored by Idemitsu – the only logical candidate to replace him should Honda decide to part ways at the end of 2022.

In four years in MotoGP with LCR and Honda, Nakagami has failed to score a podium and has managed a best of fourth just three times.

The 2022 season has started disappointingly for Nakagami, who has just one top 10 finish to his name on the LCR factory-backed Honda, and the pressure is mounting on the Japanese rider to try to save his seat.

“To be honest, from Qatar I had the pressure,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com if the start of the European season this weekend in Portugal had added pressure on him to that it performs well for its future.

“But the last four races – Qatar, Indonesia, Argentina, America – of course have not been the best. Just the top 10 in Qatar.

“I wasn’t looking for these bad results. Now from Portimao, Jerez, those two races are really, really important for me to regain confidence. Then I have to show the team and the HRC that I have potential, that I have speed.

“So maybe it’s added pressure, but at the same time I’m looking to get my confidence back. So those two races will be so important for the future.

Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose/ Motorsport pictures

Nakagami added, “Besides, I don’t want to fight for top 10. At least we can fight for top five, top six.

“It’s the minimum performance. Then, of course, if we have the luck or the extra confidence, we can fight for the podium. So the first step we need to bring back that potential because with the new bike, this bike has potential.

“So you have to be competitive all weekend and not make any mistakes.”

Nakagami’s LCR teammate Alex Marquez is also out of contract with Honda at the end of 2022.

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