Takaaki Nakagami has been officially confirmed as remaining at LCR Honda for the 2021 MotoGP season "and beyond".

The Japanese is enjoying the best form of his MotoGP career this season, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in Andalucia and front row start in Styria.

Nakagami has also put the only 2019-spec RC213V on the grid into podium contention on several occasions and currently holds fifth in the world championship, as the top Honda rider.

That form, together with HRC already making clear that Alex Marquez's arrival at LCR next season would be in place of Cal Crutchlow, means Nakagami's contract extension was considered a formality.

"I’m very happy to be able to continue racing for LCR Honda IDEMITSU in 2021 and beyond," Nakagami said. "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."

While Nakagami seat always looked safe, what has not been so clear is the specification of bike he will receive next season.

The 28-year-old has been angling for an upgrade to the latest spec machinery for several years but HRC has always resisted…And it still wasn't mentioned in the statement confirming his new deal:

Tetsuhiro Kuwata, HRC Director and Race Operations Management Division General Manager, said: "I am very pleased that we can continue to battle with Takaaki Nakagami in the MotoGP class next season onwards. I am truly grateful to the fans and IDEMITSU who have supported his career to date. This season, Nakagami’s performance has been solid, finishing within the points in every race, and is currently fifth.

"His presence in the MotoGP class is on the rise, and we look forward to his performance in the remaining races. 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."

Honda's 2021 MotoGP rider line-up is thus confirmed as Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro at the factory Repsol team, plus Nakagami and Alex Marquez at LCR.

The only seat officially still open on the 2021 grid is the second factory Aprilia place, pending the outcome of Andrea Iannone's doping appeal, but Tito Rabat now looks set to make way for Luca Marini at Avintia.

Due to a special 'covid' freeze on engine development until 2022, the 2021-spec factory bikes from Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki will still be powered by 2020 engines.

 

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