The number of riders moving up to MotoGP from Moto2 continues to grow. Pol Espargaro is confirmed at Tech 3, while Scott Redding is expected to announce a move at Silverstone, almost certainly to the Gresini team aboard a Honda production racer. And now, the championship-leading duo looks set to be joined next year by Takaaki Nakagami, the Japanese rider currently riding for the Italtrans Moto2 team.
According to respected Spanish magazine Motociclismo, Nakagami will move up with Tady Okada’s Honda Team Asia structure. Okada’s ties to Honda mean that Nakagami will be riding a Honda production racer, the same bike to be fielded by both the Cardion AB team for Karel Abraham, and at Gresini for Scott Redding.
Nakagami has been the revelation of this season, the Japanese rider securing six front row starts and two podiums, one at Qatar and one at the last race in Indianapolis. Nakagami has been a frequent race leader, though his weakness is that he fades in the latter stages.
There is no doubt that having Nakagami in MotoGP would please series organizer Dorna. There has been a dearth of Japanese talent in the series, and former 250cc world champion Hiroshi Aoyama has never regained the speed he lost after his crash at Silverstone in 2010, in which he fractured a vertebra. Nakagami is younger, and turning into a real crowd pleaser.
Nakagami’s move, should it happen, would likely sound the end of Aoyama’s time in MotoGP, but it would also leave Yuki Takahashi out in the cold.
Takahashi is currently riding the Moriwaki Moto2 bike for IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia, the outfit set to move up to accommodate Nakagami. Takahashi has had a couple of disappointing seasons in Moto2, first with Gresini and now with Honda Team Asia.
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.