LCR Honda confirms Takaaki Nakagami extension for 2020 MotoGP

Takaaki Nakagami re-signs with LCR Honda for the 2020 MotoGP season as the team confirms he will miss the final three rounds of the year through surgery

Takaaki Nakagami - LCR Honda

Takaaki Nakagami will continue with the LCR Honda team for the 2020 MotoGP World Championship as it is confirmed he will sit out the final three rounds of the 2019 season.

The Japanese rider – competing in his second season of MotoGP with LCR Honda - has been one of the quiet revelations of the 2019 season, notching up regular top ten results on a year-old RC213V and at times proving quicker than team-mate Cal Crutchlow on the current spec machine.

Despite confirmation of his 2020 MotoGP deal coming much later than others, few doubted Nakagami was due to continue with the Monegasque team though there remained doubts over whether he’d be stay on older machinery or be upgraded.

However, Honda has now confirmed Nakagami will ride the 2019-spec Honda RC213V, as ridden by Marc Marquez to this year’s world title.

Ahead of this weekend’s Japan MotoGP at Motegi, it has also been revealed Nakagami will start his home round before sitting out the remainder of the year to undergo surgery on a shoulder injury.

His place is set to be taken by ex-KTM rider Johann Zarco.

“First of all I am delighted to stay with Honda and the LCR Honda IDEMITSU Team,” Nakagami said. “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”

Honda decides against 2020-spec bike for Takaaki Nakagami 

Though few doubted seeing Nakagami on the LCR Honda for a third season in 2020, many had predicted he would be brought up to a current specification RC213V until this announcement.

It’s been a strong second year in MotoGP for Nakagami, who underwhelmed in his rookie campaign with regular but lowly points scoring positions in 2019.

After managing just a single top ten result last year, Nakagami has barely been outside it this year, starring in particular with runs to fifth at Mugello and seventh in Argentina, while he has out-qualified and finished ahead of Crutchlow on several occasions too.

That raised the prospect of Nakagami being upgraded in 2020, but Crutchlow himself rather pointedly dismissed those assertions, claiming the Japanese rider was only quicker because his 2018 specification bike was easier to handle than his.

We’ll now have a chance to see how Nakagami fares on this year’s bike – which has struggled in the hands of Jorge Lorenzo – though it means he stands to be the only rider on the grid with a year-old machine after Ducati confirmed it will upgraded Pecco Bagnaia to current machinery in 2020, while Yamaha is almost certainly set to do the same with Fabio Quartararo.