Following Sunday's Japanese MotoGP, Takaaki Nakagami's name and number will be peeled from his LCR Honda and replaced by those of Johann Zarco.

Nakagami is to miss the final three rounds of the season in order to undergo major shoulder surgery, with Zarco called up in his place.

"Unfortunately we had the crash [with Rossi] in Assen and since then my right shoulder has felt really bad," Nakagami told the official MotoGP website.

"I mean race-by-race I feel it's getting worse. I didn't tell anyone and kept quiet to not show I had a problem but in the last few races I've had big issues, the potential is going down and down.

"It was a hard decision but I've decided to have surgery after the Japanese GP. The doctors say the minimum recovery time is three months so I hope I can come back at the [2020] Sepang test."

Zarco took six podiums with Tech3 Yamaha, but then struggled at KTM. Nakagami is among those curious to see how the Frenchman will now perform on last year's Honda.

"I think it will be really interesting for Zarco to jump on my bike in the last three races," Nakagami said. "He has been at Yamaha, KTM and now the 2018 Honda, so of course I want to see his potential with the Honda.

"I will check all the practice from Australia and it'll be interesting to see what he does. I will not be at the track, so I cannot see the data, but I'll keep in touch with the team and I'm curious to see how he manages the Honda bike."

Whatever happens, Nakagami faces no threat from Zarco as far as 2020, with a new HRC contract extension announced in the run-up to this weekend's home event at Motegi

"I'm very happy to stay with LCR and HRC," Nakagami said. "I love this team with Lucio and all the staff. I'm sorry to miss the last three races but I hope to come back stronger than ever next year."

Nakagami, twelfth in the world championship with a best finish of fifth, will again have a year-old bike next season.

Zarco's future plans are unclear. He looked set for a Yamaha test riding role, but his recruitment in place of Nakagami - rather than HRC test rider Stefan Bradl - has fuelled rumours Honda wants to see his potential should the struggling Jorge Lorenzo not remain at Repsol Honda in 2020.

 

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