LCR: Takaaki Nakagami, Ai Ogura or ‘maybe a third option’?

Takaaki Nakagami and Ai Ogura are known to be favourites for the remaining LCR Honda seat, alongside Alex Rins, in MotoGP next season.
Takaaki Nakagami, British MotoGP, 5 August
Takaaki Nakagami, British MotoGP, 5 August

But could there also be a third option?

Talking to BT Sport, team boss Lucio Cecchinello said: “Honestly this is a decision that is completely in Honda’s hands. I think it will be a couple of weeks before they decide.

“There are two options on the table. Maybe they have a third option. Honestly, I have no idea. But this is a project where they are keen to leave a spot for an Asian rider.

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“Of course, to continue with Nakagami is an option. Ai Ogura is an option. This is a decision they will take soon.”

BT pundit Sylvain Guintoli was clear on who any potential third option would be:

“It is definitely Somkiat Chantra. He is part of the team in Moto2, managed by Hiroshi Aoyama.

“This seat, like Lucio said, is reserved for an Asian rider. It will be Nakagami, Ogura or Chantra. If it isn’t Nakagami, he will likely become a test rider for Honda.”

Chantra is team-mate to Ogura in the Honda Team Asia Moto2 squad.

Both have taken a first Moto2 race win this season but while Ogura is currently second in the standings, with one DNF, Thai rider Chantra has slipped to tenth overall due to four non-scores plus a DNS in Qatar.

Takaaki Nakagami, Dutch MotoGP, 26 June
Takaaki Nakagami, Dutch MotoGP, 26 June

Nakagami: No information yet on 2023

While Alex Marquez – switching to Gresini Ducati next season – says he is riding the same spec bike as Qatar, team-mate Nakagami had a new chassis at Silverstone, emphasising his significance to Honda’s development programme.

The Japanese fought his way from 21st on the grid to finish as the top Honda, albeit in just 13th place.

“In qualifying there was massive gap... In the race at least my pace was, not fantastic, but top 10 pace. But we are not looking for the top 10. We are looking for better performance [than that].

“Finishing 13th is not the best and hopefully we can have another step for the Red Bull Ring. I'm curious to see the new layout [chicane] on Thursday.”

Asked again about his future, just before leaving Silverstone, Nakagami replied: “Not yet. I didn't get any information, once I get some information I will let you all know!”

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