Honda has finally confirmed a widely-anticipated contract extension for MotoGP rider Takaaki Nakagami, ending prolonged negotiations by announcing that he would remain with the team for “2021 and beyond” after signing a multi-year deal.
Nakagami was expected to remain a key part of the Honda structure for next year given his impressive results in 2020 so far.
He is the only rider to finish every race this year in the points with ten consecutive top-ten finishes and he currently sits fifth in the championship standings.
Nakagami has been unfortunate to miss out on a podium so far, with a red flag at the Styrian Grand Prix costing him the chance to take the next step in his progression with a top-three finish – a goal for the remaining four races of the year.
“I’m very happy to be able to continue racing for LCR Honda IDEMITSU in 2021 and beyond,” said Nakagami.
“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.”
“I am very pleased that we can continue to battle with Takaaki Nakagami in the MotoGP class next season onwards,” added HRC race manager Tetsuhiro Kuwata.
“I am truly grateful to the fans and IDEMITSU who have supported his career to date.
“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.”
However, with only a brief statement released by Honda’s global press room rather than through the usual racing channels (a sign of how important the Japanese rider is to Honda’s home audience), there are still a few question marks about the exact specifics of the deal.
The squad confirmed only that the year was “multi-year” and did not specify the exact length – and it is also unknown what level of machinery Nakagami will be on next year.
He currently rides the 2019-spec Honda RC213V, but Nakagami has been pushing to move onto the same deal as current team-mate Cal Crutchlow, who receives the same bike as the Repsol Honda duo of Marc and Alex Marquez.
With the junior Marquez already confirmed as Nakagami’s teammate and set to get 2021 bikes next year, though, it remains to be seen whether Honda is prepared to join Ducati in becoming the only other manufacturer on the grid with four current-generation machines.