This weekend's Japanese MotoGP should see Jorge Lorenzo become the youngest rider in history to reach 200 premier-class starts, at 32 years and 169 days old.

But the question now widely being asked is how many more starts he will make at Repsol Honda.

With Johann Zarco poised to replace LCR's Takaaki Nakagami for the final three rounds of the season, speculation is rife that the Frenchman is being considered to replace Lorenzo in 2020.

The triple MotoGP champion has a contract until the end of next season, but all contracts include some kind of exit clause/penalty. Or, as with Zarco and KTM, a factory can usually decide to release a rider from their commitments.

While Lorenzo remains publicly committed to seeing out his Honda contract, with no progress being made to improve his lacklustre results - best of eleventh before the Assen back injuries, no higher than 14th since – many are wondering how much longer the situation can continue for either party.

As the home track of Honda, Motegi should provide the chance for crunch meetings with Honda/HRC bosses and therefore provide some clarity over Lorenzo's future, one way or the other.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo said in Buriram that he did not expect to receive any further new parts this season and so is focussed on trying set-up and riding changes.

“We head to Japan looking for more after two difficult weekends," said Lorenzo, who finished 20th and 18th in Aragon and Buriram.

"Myself and the team have some ideas to try for the bike in Motegi which will hopefully allow us to get back to where we need to be.

"I have some good memories at the track and it will be special to race in front of the Japanese crowd for the first time as a Honda rider.”

Lorenzo's troubles mean that despite team-mate Marc Marquez claiming 14 podiums from 15 rounds, including nine wins, Repsol Honda is trailing Ducati in the teams' standings by 19 points.

 

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