Cal Crutchlow believes his LCR Honda MotoGP team-mate Takaaki Nakagami is doing a better job than he did in his own rookie season.
Nakagami graduated from Moto2 this year and enjoyed a strong start to the season with four consecutive points finishes.
Subsequent incidents have left the 26-year-old Japanese rider 21st in the championship and third-best among the 2018 rookies behind Hafizh Syahrin and Franco Morbidelli.
But Crutchlow, who came into MotoGP from World Superbikes in 2011 and finished 12th in the standings in a smaller field with Tech3 Yamaha, defended his team-mate.
“I think he’s done well,” Crutchlow said when asked about Nakagami’s performances by Autosport.
“He’s not made too many mistakes, he’s finished most of the races.
“I think he’s done a good job, he’s done a better job than what I did in my rookie year.
“You have to look at a lot of the guys who come across on the Honda in their rookie year, he’s handed [Tom] Luthi his arse.”
Nakagami said he was “not happy enough” with his MotoGP campaign so far.
“The performance, I am not happy enough, because the team [gives me a] good package and good support but especially the last two races were not so good for me,” he said.
“Some crashes and unfortunately in Mugello Dani [Pedrosa] hit me, [then] I crashed. But step by step we are coming.
“Still we are not happy enough.”
Nakagami regularly impressed in the third sector of the Sachsenring earlier this month, where he was the fastest rider in the series of fast left-handers, and was fifth-quickest in qualifying.
Crutchlow reckons having good corner speed is a legacy of Nakagami’s Moto2 roots, but he also feels his team-mate was motivated to take advantage of injured fellow rookie Honda rider Morbidelli withdrawing from the weekend.
“He saw an opportunity to take points in the rookies’ championship, to show Honda that he is going good, which he is, he always has done,” said Crutchlow.
“I honestly believe that’s one of the reasons.
“He was a rocket in the third and fourth sectors, he is first in the third sector and second in the fast corners. But that’s what you get coming from Moto2, the corner speed.”