Takaaki Nakagami Confirmed With LCR Honda For 2020, To Miss Last Three Races For Shoulder Surgery

Takaaki Nakagami will be staying with the LCR Honda team for 2020, HRC and the LCR Honda team have officially confirmed.  After a long period of negotiation, Honda and Nakagami have finally reached terms which will see the Japanese rider staying in Lucio Cecchinello's team for another season.

The announcement had long been expected. Nakagami was one of a few riders without a confirmed contract for 2020, but as his place in the LCR Honda Idemitsu team came with direct support from Honda and Japanese oil brand Idemitsu, there seemed little doubt he would be back. 

The sticking point in the negotiations was which bike Nakagami would be riding. Throughout the summer, Nakagami insisted he wanted a 2020-spec Honda RC213V for next year. However, as the flyaways approached, it became increasingly clear that the Japanese rider was resigned to settling for a 2019-spec machine.

That was finally confirmed in the press release, LCR team boss Lucio Cecchinello stating that Nakagami will be racing "the RCV Factory motorcycle that has just won the 2019 World Title with Marc Marquez". Given how difficult to ride the 2019 machine has proven to be for anyone other than Marquez, this could pose a serious challenge for Nakagami.

The press release also confirmed that Nakagami will miss the last three races of the 2019 season after his home race in Motegi. Nakagami is to undergo surgery on his right shoulder after Motegi, and faces a long rehabilitation period to be fit for the first test of 2020 at Sepang. He injured his shoulder in the crash with Valentino Rossi at Assen this year, and has suffered with a lack of strength since then.

Nakagami's absence opens the way for Johann Zarco to step in and take his place. Though this has not been announced yet, Zarco confirmed to leading French journalist Thomas Baujard that he would be replacing Nakagami for the remainder of 2019.

This opportunity is widely seen as a trial run for Zarco at Honda. There are credible rumors in the paddock that Repsol Honda are considering sacking Jorge Lorenzo at the end of the year, and replacing the Spaniard with Johann Zarco. There are of course concerns that Zarco may find the Honda just as hard to ride as he did the KTM, and giving Zarco a trial on the Honda for the remaining three races of 2019 gives HRC a chance to evaluate the Frenchman's ability to ride the RC213V.

Nakagami's contract wraps up the last-but-one seat on the 2020 MotoGP grid. The only seat left open is at KTM, to replace Zarco, who quit the team earlier this year. Zarco's seat is currently being filled by Mika Kallio, and the Finn remains an option for 2020. Meanwhile, KTM are looking round for a possible replacement.

The press releases from HRC and the LCR Honda team appear below:


Honda extend contract with Takaaki Nakagami in MotoGP

On the eve of his home MotoGP race in Japan, Honda Racing Corporation confirm the one-year extension of Takaaki Nakagami in the LCR Honda IDEMITSU.

Now in his second year aboard the Honda RC213V run inside LCR Honda IDEMITSU, Takaaki Nakagami has demonstrated constant improvements in his riding and results in the MotoGP class. With nine top-ten finishes and a best result of fifth at the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello, the Japanese rider has already amassed more than double the points he scored in his rookie campaign.

Takaaki Nakagami arrives at his home race, the Japanese Grand Prix, with a new one-year contract with LCR Honda IDEMITSU. All involved are pleased to continue the relationship and look forward to more improvements from the 27-year old.

After the race in Motegi, Nakagami will undergo an operation on his shoulder to resolve an injury that has troubled him throughout the season. The nature of the operation warrants an extensive recovery period, forcing the Japanese rider to end his 2019 season early. By performing the operation now, Nakagami is aiming to be fully fit for the first test of the 2020 season in Sepang on February 07.

Takaaki Nakagami 30
Rider – MotoGP

“First of all I am delighted to stay with Honda and the LCR Team. I have been able to improve a lot this year and Honda have shown me great support and given me a very strong package. I am sure together we can continue this in 2020. About the injury, after the crash I had in Assen I found myself in some pain and lacking a bit of strength in my shoulder. I went to the doctor to fully understand the situation and while I have been able to ride with the injury, it has not been ideal so we made the difficult decision alongside Honda and the LCR Team to have this operation now.”

Tetsuhiro Kuwata
HRC Director - General Manager Race Operations Management Division

“We are proud to continue to support Takaaki Nakagami in the MotoGP class for the 2020 season. As a rider he has continued to develop and grow throughout all of 2019. He is someone who inspires many young talents in Japan and Asia with his hard work and focus. I wish him all the best in his recovery and look forward to the 2020 season.”


NAKAGAMI AND HRC EXTEND CONTRACT FOR 2020

PRESS RELEASE: 15 October 2019 - OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Takaaki Nakagami and HRC have agreed an extension to their contract for the 2020 MotoGP World Championship. It is confirmed this week that the Japanese talent has signed another one-year deal with the Japanese manufacturer, riding for Lucio Cecchinello’s outfit in the LCR Honda IDEMITSU Team.

Now in his second year aboard the RC213V Takaaki Nakagami has demonstrated consistent improvements in his riding and results in the premier class in 2019. With eight top-ten finishes and a best result of fifth at the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello so far, the Japanese rider has already amassed more than double the points he scored in his rookie campaign.

After his home race in Motegi, Nakagami will undergo an operation on his right shoulder to resolve an injury that has troubled him throughout the season. The nature of the operation warrants an extensive recovery period, forcing the Japanese rider to prematurely end his 2019 season. By performing the operation now, Nakagami is aiming to be fully fit for the first test of the 2020 season in Sepang on February 7th.

Lucio Cecchinello (LCR Honda Team Principal): “We are delighted to continue this project with Takaaki Nakagami, and hope to build even further on his impressive performance in 2019. Taka has demonstrated the ability to fight in the top ten of the MotoGP World Championship every race weekend and together with HRC we will set the goal of taking another step forward. In 2020, Taka will compete with the RCV Factory motorcycle that has just won the 2019 World Title with Marc Marquez. Next season will be particularly important so, although we are sorry about the early end to Taka’s season, we are convinced that the decision to undergo surgery after the Japanese GP is the correct one, so that he can return to the best physical condition by the time of the first test in Malaysia in February.”

Takaaki Nakagami

“First of all I am delighted to stay with Honda and the LCR Honda IDEMITSU Team. I have been able to improve a lot this year and Honda have shown me great support and given me a very strong package. I am sure together we can continue this in 2020. About the injury, after the crash I had in Assen during the race I found myself in some pain and lacking a bit of strength in my right shoulder. I went to visit Doctor Mir twice in Barcelona, and more recently I had an appointment with Doctor Hiroyuki Sugaya at Funabashi Orthopedic Surgical Hospital in Tokyo to fully understand the situation. While I have been able to ride with the injury, it has not been ideal, so we made the difficult decision alongside Honda and the LCR Honda IDEMITSU Team to have this operation in Japan straight after my home race”.

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Comments

maybe Taka could ask to stay on the 2018 bike?

Total votes: 23

Updated the story to reflect that Cecchinello states Nakagami will be on a 2019 machine.

Total votes: 8

We know the 19 engine won't work in the 18 machine due to the significant changes made to the air box and induction system.

I wonder if whatever chassis/geometry etc changes are made for the 20 machine to improve front end feel will be applicable and available for retro fitting to the 19 bike.
Or for a satellite team is it a case of this is the 19 bike, take it as is, no improvements available but you can paint it in your colours.

If it is the latter Nakagami and his shoulder could be challenged in 20.

Total votes: 15

Right? Likely just Marc's Valencia bike wheeled over, and Cal's spares are shuffled next door unceremoniously. Wishes of hiding this 2018 behind a box, but watching it being wheeled away to the chop heap with sorrow.

They used to screw down the canopy on kamikazes, didn't they? Reminds me of stories from Pops Yoshimura re leading the kids to targets and flying back alone. Poor Taka isn't looking at a good year.

Wondering how Cal will fare, and who moves onto that seat etc already. Cal has had much experience w second hand kit, but Taka might feel better not hearing it.

Maybe they will let him keep the 2018? LCR can be assertive and crafty, maybe he can pull a Herve-Zarco and beat the scrap heap. Honda is not known for its flexibility, and the Zarco Tech3 bike brought embarrassment to the Blue Factory brass.

Total votes: 19

"Reminds me of stories from Pops Yoshimura re leading the kids to targets and flying back alone".. Yoshimura was an aeroplane mechanic, not a pilot. It takes 10 seconds to check but that takes the fun out of the salacious bullshit though, doesn't it?

Total votes: 12

Hideo Yoshimura spent the second world war as an in flight mechanic for a transport squadron in Singapore, unfortunately in the last year of the war his unit was assigned to fly lead-in and observation for 'Special Attack Squadrons,' known to us westerners as the Kamikaze. They really did fly out in a pre-war DC-3 flanked by attack aircraft, point them at the targets and watch them all die. Needless to say he did not find the experience a pleasant one, in fact it drove him to drink to the point of giving himself a stomach ulcer. That in turn got him returned to Japan and probably saved his life.

.

Pops was an interesting guy, between the end of the war and fixing motos at his brother's iron works he spent a year in prison for black market trading (Japanese Whisky, what else?). He was also one of a very few Japanese servicemen who talked about his experiences of war fairly openly. I'm not sure how much there is about him in English, but if you're willing to brave Google translate there's been a lot written about Mr Yoshimura in Japan.

Total votes: 8

How many test riders can a team have?  Could Honda hire Zarco as a test rider so he can become acclimated with the bike before they use him as Nakagami's replacment?   

Total votes: 8

$ and feasibility are the only limit here. Fun idea! They can't likely get a contract w Zarco this quickly, the paper and desks upstairs have their own agenda and pace.

I bet he does pretty well at P.I. given how little time he has on the bike. With all the pressure, a significant crash could happen too. He will throw his balls at it.

He does well at Sepang and likes the track, but handling is important there. Not sure on that one. Valencia? He and the 2018 Honda could do well there.

Anyone wonder what Bradl thinks of all this? Must be a big disappointment for our German friend.

The timing on all of this will be interesting. When does Jorge do what? Might he dash over to talks w Yamaha Test while Zarco has that on pause? Not too outlandish a notion given odd circumstances.

Total votes: 12

We shouldn't be too surprised that the latest HRC big wig Takeo Yokoyama was affronted by seeing the Ducati lanes and decided to give it Wiings (TM). It appears this made it all the more recalcitrant but 'hey, we pay the best salaries so get the most mercurial talent so we win, proves how good the bike is doesn't it?' Does it? Going right back to the Spencer era, Honda's have always thrown their weight, read riders, around. Everyone asks what could Dani have done on say an M1, that didn't beat up Cal, Dovi, Spies (well..), Johann or Fabio. The Honda beats very good riders up. Assuming MM is fully fit, and we still aren't sure, there isn't a fit Honda rider out there. The VDS team and riders despised it, riders loved getting onto other marques but the school bully of the paddock has always found someone to send the others scurrying for the classroom. Cal is no softie but he's very nearly had enough, Taka will be inscrutable while we may not see JL99 back to anywhere near his brilliant best. He will be quarantined at HRC for 2020 for obvious reasons but will he want to push/crash with his very serious injuries waiting to be hammered again? He still holds records on the reference M1, though Marc is slowly erasing them, but it is a fabulous 'kindergarten' bike as proved with JZ5 & FQ20. HRC have always been able to pay for the aliens who could manage anything, though even Doohan, Gardner, Randy, got smacked around and Rossi clearly didn't feel it was all about the bike. Casey wanted changes when in his test rider role but said he wasn't being listened to-he also said that at Ducati, twice. Maybe that's just Casey...

Look at when the new Fireblade took to the track, but more devastatingly, to the roads, it nearly killed McGuinness, ending his fantastic career with Honda in a very poor way; also Guy Martin who admitted he was terrified of what it might, or might not do. In BSB it bullied riders and baffled engineers-for such a hugely resourced company, you do wonder. 

When the biggest of merry go rounds stops and the 2021 line up is revealed, what if the likes of Red Bull give MM some very expensive Wiings (TM) and parachute him out of there to win on something else. If that happens, unlikely as it may currently seem, the school bully of bikes may just run out of road. Oh, and get JL99 back with Davide Brivio, if he remains in one piece throughout 2020..

Total votes: 13

Interesting niggle, this. Today in the manner that these are circling planetary fashion.

Zarco hits the eject button on the Orange ride. Moto2 or Yamaha Test bound, the latter primary. Then Nakagami needs shoulder surgery, and negotiating contract in order to dodge the 2019 blazing oinker.

Could Taka get a 2yr old parts bin special bike? Like...Zarco and Herve excelled with. Not likely, but isn't this a fascinating ponder up there ^ ?

Lorenzo is...Zarcoing? Contracts have a performance clause that can be for both parties. Jorge and Honda are not breaching the necessary minimum threshold. We have asked, will he leave Honda? Where would he go? He looked into Jack's Duc. Now he will obviously stay at Honda without even a ponder of Zarco's Orange seat of course. Right?

Wait, stop. Honda can sack Jorge. Zarco gets on the more rideable 2018 Honda to interview for the 2020 one. Taka was pushed onto the 2019 bike and signed the contract, unable to get a 2020.

KTM, Honda and Yamaha braiding together around two very gifted riders suited to the Blue bikes. Zarco does a 3 event interview (how unusual is THIS?!). KTM pauses. Yamaha Test waits too. Lorenzo eyes them.

Lorenzo could go to Yamaha Test. Or KTM. His behavior/performance is a language. It says "I am done here." Honda has an entirely loose hold on him, and this may well have plopped on the floor.

KTM has Binder arriving, Oliveira on the move, and Pol doing the business. Dani Test is on song. If Jorge knocks, they may as well. Just an addendum experiment. Lorenzo, is this now down to you? What is your call going to be?

Yamaha would love to have either Lorenzo or Zarco take the Test bike pace WAY forward of anything previous. This doesn't happen, a top tier GP rider wanting to do development on your bike. How weirdly interesting is this?

Yamaha has long had no rider pipeline in lower classes. Now, they may have Vinales, Rossi leaving, Quartararo doing a Blue rocket-man, and both Zarco and Lorenzo circling to Test and compete for a seat.

Because the Honda is all motor and no rails. Honda has ONE rider and some sort of "reality tv show" shedding of the others. The Yamaha inverse, and increasingly Italian subtitles.

Imagine the Herve, Gigi and Davide discussion. Oh my would that be a gem! Davide, arms crossed, sitting back feeling sidelined in wonder via his project's scale. Gigi grabbing his hair, seamless eyebrow shifting about, losing his damn mind re Aliens. Herve? Laughing and hitting his thighs, with a quip for every comment.

2019 Marquez may have wrapped the championship up at the Qatar test, and Suzuki have stood a bit still. But this Yamaha return/Aqua/Honda mis-handling/Orange surge/Zarco-Lorenzo tap dance around the 3 bikes is a welcome hoot.

The 2020 silly season has started already, and it is looking berserk. If Suzuki adds a 2nd team w one of the few established big presences (Gresini, Pons or perhaps something British?) and a chunky financier (Rockstar, Coca Cola, or perhaps something oil and gas, communications/tech?) it will be even better yet. This is in the cards, can be in play, and the chicanery is already twisting.

Yamaha could end up the loser here, as Jorge is DRIVEN to be racing. Can he really pass up the KTM seat, regardless of the shite goodness of fit outlook? No Folger, no Zarco, then no Jorge? Or will Jorge just yearn for that sweet handling so very badly that visions of front running for a handful of contracted Wildcards, a chance at replacement subs, and a 2021 Yamaha seat pull his pen to paper? The guy MUST feel the draw back home.

Fun. Wishing everyone luck, 2020 Honda bike handling development and reliability excepted.
;)

Addendum for frequent one * fan down there, I sincerely appreciate you. I like your liking to dislike articles/posts. I am that way re Honda too. Zero kidding, you helped me move past consideration of the ****s altogether, along w the couple of folks here whose posts are better skipped over. Keep at it, and enjoy the site!

Total votes: 43

Wow, reading that was painful. 

Total votes: 33