LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami topped the Jerez MotoGP times on Thursday before ending the test second overall.
With Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez out of action due to his off-road training accident, and Pol Espargaro’s fitness in question after Valencia, Nakagami took control of HRC’s testing responsibilities on Thursday.
The Japanese rider headed out briefly on the 2021 Honda he’d finished Valencia with, to get himself up to speed, before swapping straight to the 2022-spec RC213V for the majority of the day.
Friday saw Espargaro take over on 2022 duties with both riders singing the upgrade’s praises, Nakagami heading into the winter break in high spirits and confident of more to come.
“The first outing, we didn't know that the condition is good or not so just in case went out with this year's bike and already on lap four I was able to do a '37.7 and it was quite easy to get the good speed,” he said of Thursday’s early action.
“After that, was straight to jump on the new bike. To be honest, the feeling is quite similar to this year's bike which is good. Of course, only the first taste so means we have a lot of time to improve the bike but anyway the first impression was really good so I'm quite happy.
“Nice to see that P1 in first test of 2022. Sa a great start for us and my feeling is was quite positive.”
Reflecting on his sudden promotion to lead the testing duties, Nakagami admitted he was not expecting to have so much time with the 2022 machine on the first day.
“No, definitely no,” he said simply."Because first thing, the Marc announced that he will miss Valencia and the Jerez test. Then HRC told me that I have the opportunity to test in Jerez test. Then Pol had the crash on Friday, and then we didn't know that Pol would be fit Jerez test or not, but he ride very well. Anyway, for us it's good because we can test the new bike and the feeling, which is good.
“Still a lot of work we need to do and we can have a lot of improvement in all areas so this is nice. It’s good thing that in the first day already we are P1, everyone is not pushing like crazy but anyway is good. I'm really happy how HRC developed the new bike and I understood that they tried to really work hard to improve the bike and first impression was good.
“Also today, in the second day we try to work on the new bikes,” he continued. “Not like yesterday because yesterday we are able to make many laps but we have to share the bike with Pol, Alex so, today not so many laps, but anyway. Straight on lap four is already able to 1'37.6, and I didn't push really hard and the lap time is already there.
“After that we are trying some improvement on the front feeling and was good. After the lunch break we were back to this year's bike because we don't have new bikes but both bike is quite competitive. I really enjoy those two days test and so I'm happy, now it's offseason and recharge for the 2022 season."