Nakagami apologises to Bagnaia, Rins after Barcleona first turn crash

Takaaki Nakagami has apologised to Francesco Bagnaia and Alex Rins in an Instagram posted from his hospital bed in Barcelona on Monday.`

Takaaki Nakagami in LCR Honda garage, 2022 Catalan Grand Prix. - Gold and Goose

TAKAAKI Nakagami has released an update on Instagram following his crash in the Catalan Grand Prix last Sunday. 

Nakagami had made a good start to the race and, in fact, there is some thought that Honda have found something clever with their launch mechanisms - between the launch control electronics and ride height devices - which is giving them an advantage off the line.

On the Paddock Pass Podcast episode reviewing the Catalan MotoGP race, the idea was floated that Nakagami was somewhat surprised by his impressive start, and became unsure heading into the braking zone for turn one. “I don’t think it was an absolutely, chronically, outrageously stupid thing that Nakagami did,” said Paddock Pass’ Neil Morrison. “Taka was fourth [...] when he was midway through the braking phase. Then he got a bit crossed up and that’s when he tucked the front,” Morrison continued. 

In that sense, there was a symmetry between Nakagami’s incident with Francesco Bagnaia and Alex Rins in Barcelona 2022 and the one between Garrett Gerloff and Toprak Razgatlioglu in Assen 2021. Of course, Nakagami will not be facing the wrath of HRC for taking out Bagnaia and Rins in the same way Gerloff was hammered by Yamaha for cleaning out their title contender, but, as we mentioned on Sunday, the timing for Nakagami is not fantastic for his future. 

Already there have been rumblings that he could be losing his seat for 2023 in LCR Honda after the impressive performances of Ai Ogura in the Honda Team Asia Moto2 team so far this season, and, still without a podium in the premier class in what is now his fifth season of MotoGP, Nakagami’s defence against his younger compatriot is relatively weak. 

But, perhaps the most critical thing about the crash for Nakagami is that he escaped it with no serious injuries. Bagnaia was also relatively fine after the crash, and able to ride his Desmosedici back to the Ducati garage where he was immediately consoled by Davide Tardozzi. Alex Rins, on the other hand, broke his wrist, and had to go to hospital where he was joined by Nakagami, who was in significant pain. 

Yesterday (7 June 2022), Nakagami posted on Instagram to give an update on his condition, his experience of the crash and to offer a public apology to Bagnaia and Rins. 

“First of all, I want to apologise to [Alex Rins and Suzuki], and [Pecco Bagnaia and Ducati] for the accident at turn 1,” Nakagami’s post began. “I’m really sorry [I] destroyed your race.”

About his own condition, Nakagami wrote, “It was a scary one but fortunately I’m OK, no serious injury. I’ll try to [recover] ASAP.”

The hospitalisation for Nakagami meant he was unavailable for HRC to test on the Monday at the official IRTA post-race test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. That only added to the problems for HRC, who have already written off Pol Espargaro as a development tool, as they look to replace him for 2023. With Marc Marquez also unavailable after his surgery in the US, most of the development testing for Honda was conducted by Marquez stand-in and factory test rider Stefan Bradl, and Nakagami’s teammate, Alex Marquez. For a factory who essentially revolutionised its GP bike for 2022, such a depleted line-up is sub-optimal from a development standpoint, and you also have to wonder about their potential to be fighting at the front of races in the upcoming rounds. 

The lack of serious injury for Nakagami should put him in the window for a return to action at the next round of the World Championship at the German Grand Prix in the Sachsenring, where Honda will be looking to win for the 11th time in succession. That run began with Dani Pedrosa in 2011, who backed it up in 2012, before Marc Marquez began his unbeaten run at the German venue that continued even in 2016 when he ran on into the gravel mid-race at turn eight, and in 2021 when he took his first race win after the broken arm of Jerez 2020. The likelihood of Honda continuing that golden German run in 2022, though, is about as low as possible