Takaaki Nakagami seals ‘multi-year’ Honda contract for 2021 MotoGP and beyond

Takaaki Nakagami will remain in the Honda fold for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship and beyond after signing a multi-year agreement

Takaaki Nakagami - LCR Honda

Another seat on the 2021 MotoGP World Championship grid has been officially confirmed with Takaaki Nakagami remaining with LCR Honda alongside Alex Marquez.

The Japanese rider, who made his MotoGP debut with the satellite Honda squad in 2018, was always expected to retain his ride over Cal Crutchlow on the strength of his close links to HRC, with whom his contract is aligned with.

However, a series of impressive results during the 2020 MotoGP season on the year-old Honda RC213V - a best finish of fourth and a maiden front row start - all-but-confirmed this.

Having finished 20th in his rookie campaign of 2018 and 13th overall in an injury-hampered 2019 campaign, Nakagami - as the only rider to have finished all 10 races inside the top ten this year - sits fifth in the standings, despite not being any one of the 15 riders that  have stepped on the podium in 2020.

"I’m very happy to be able to continue racing for LCR Honda IDEMITSU in 2021 and beyond,” he said. “I’m grateful to Honda for their generous support, allowing me to bring out my full potential this season. I will be doing my best to gain solid results for the remaining races, and build on that momentum next year. I’m aiming higher with Honda. I look forward to your continued support."

Though the lengthy wait for confirmation was understood to be down to a decision on whether he would be upgraded to spec-machinery in 2021, there was no mention of whether he will be brought into line with his Honda counterparts Marc Marquez, Pol Espargaro and Alex Marquez.

Nonetheless, Honda says it is a multi-year deal suggesting there may be scope for Nakagami to earn a factory HRC ride in future too.

"I am very pleased that we can continue to battle with Takaaki Nakagami in the MotoGP class next season onwards,” said Tetsuhiro Kuwata, HRC Director and Race Operations Manager. “I am truly grateful to the fans and IDEMITSU who have supported his career to date. This season, Nakagami’s performance has been solid, finishing within the points in every race, and is currently fifth.

"His presence in the MotoGP class is on the rise, and we look forward to his performance in the remaining races. He will be joined by Alex Marquez from next year, and I hope the two teammates will be able to bring out the best in each other, and bring the team better results than ever before."

The announcement formally confirms Cal Crutchlow will leave the Honda MotoGP fold in a racing capacity after six seasons. As it stands, Crutchlow's options are limited to joining Aprilia albeit only if Andrea Iannone isn't successful in his drugs ban appeal.