Another day, another rider signing. Tuesday's news is the confirmation that Takaaki Nakagami has extended his contract for another year with the LCR Honda Idemitsu squad.
The deal had been getting closer over the past few rounds, as Nakagami, who negotiates his own contract, had been speaking with HRC for several races. The second half of the season has seen Nakagami's role in developing the Honda RC213V expand, the Japanese rider taking on the role of testing parts before the factory Repsol Honda riders were ready. HRC seem to be using more of Nakagami's input in their development process.
Nakagami has also been far more outspoken in his criticism of Honda in the past few months. Perhaps emboldened by remarks by both Marc Marquez and Joan Mir in the factory team, Nakagami has been keen to highlight the deficiencies of the RC213V.
Reading between the lines, this suggest that HRC is keen for some stability within Honda's rider stable at the moment. Joan Mir and Alex Rins are new to Honda this year, and Rins will be leaving to be replaced by Johann Zarco, whose experience of the bike has been a few rides at the end of 2019, replacing the injured Nakagami. Marc Marquez' future with Honda is in doubt, as has been discussed at great length before, so keeping Nakagami is a way to ensure continuity and a consistent voice in the development program.
The LCR Honda press release appears below:
LCR HONDA IDEMITSU AND TAKAAKI NAKAGAMI
EXTEND CONTRACT FOR 2024
LCR Honda IDEMITSU proudly announces the renewal of Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami for the 2024 season.
31-year-old Nakagami jumped into the MotoGP category alongside LCR Honda IDEMITSU, and since that moment, both the rider and the team have worked unceasingly to make the most out of every season. He is one of the riders who know the Honda best, and considering his experience, the team, and HRC have agreed with Nakagami for the next year to continue developing the bike and fighting for the positions that matter.
Through the time together, the Japanese confirmed his work capacity, commitment, and fighting spirit through these years, which perfectly matches LCR's philosophy. Cheers to a brighter future together!
Lucio Cecchinello, LCR Honda Team Principal
"I'm proud to count on Nakagami for another year. He's a fast rider who can get good results, and alongside HRC, we believe it's time to keep pushing, as he's one of the most experienced guys with this bike. We will give our best to fight for the positions we aim for".
Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider
"I feel LCR is part of my family, and of course, I'm excited to be with them for another season. I want to thank them and HRC for the opportunity, as I know we are a good match. Now it's time to work even harder to be ready for the future".