LCR retains Takaaki Nakagami for 2019
Takaaki Nakagami has been granted a second season in the MotoGP World Championship, after the LCR Honda team confirmed it will be retaining the young Japanese rider for next year.
Moto2 race-winner Nakagami came into the premier class at the start of this year, and currently sits 20th in the standings having amassed 18 points on year-old Honda machinery, while also making three appearances in Q2 – the most of any rookie in '18 so far.
Having sufficiently impressed in his debut campaign, Nakagami's re-signing to LCR and HRC was a mere formality, with the team confirming the news on the eve of his home race in Japan.
“First of all I am really happy to continue with LCR Honda Idemitsu Team in 2019,” Nakagami said.
A big thank you goes to our sponsor Idemitsu for its great support and of course to Honda HRC for believing in my skills and providing a competitive technical package.
“This team is very professional and I could not ask for more in my debut season in the premier class so I am very happy to continue with Lucio and his crew.
“I can’t wait to start the new season but at the same time I am very focused on my home race in Motegi and the last races of this 2018 championship.”
Team boss Lucio Cecchinello added: “We are very happy that Idemitsu and Honda HRC have renewed their support to Nakagami for next season because it was a real pleasure working with him in his first experience in the major category.
“Debuting in the MotoGP class is not an easy transition for a rider because the level is extremely high but Taka has demonstrated very remarkable skills and a will to learn, finishing quite often as the best Rookie of the category.
“On behalf of the whole team I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Idemitsu and Honda HRC for giving us the chance to continue our journey with Taka and succeed in the new challenges ahead.”
Nakagami's fellow Honda rookies Franco Morbidelli will join the SIC Petronas Yamaha outfit next year, while his Marc VDS stablemate Tom Luthi will return to Moto2 with Intact GP.
Team-mate Cal Crutchlow – who currently sits sixth in the standings and as top independent rider – penned a one-year extension with HRC in August which will see him remain with LCR through to the end of '20, which he admitted during the British Grand Prix weekend could be his last MotoGP deal.
Only the second seat at Avintia is up for grabs now, though this will almost certainly go to current rider Tito Rabat.