It is news that have known for the past few days, ever since it became clear that Takaaki Nakagami would need surgery to repair his injured shoulder, which he hurt during a crash with Valentino Rossi earlier this year at Assen.
And now, we have official word that Johann Zarco will ride in Nakagami’s place at the LCR Honda, for the final three races for the 2019 MotoGP season.
The news is a boon for Zarco, who was relieved of his position within the KTM factory team. Though there has been some rumors that Zarco could find a job at Yamaha, as a factory GP test rider, this news with LCR Honda holds even bigger promise.
This is because paddock gossip suggests that Honda and Lorenzo could be parting ways, with the Spaniard clearly unable to come to terms with the Honda RC213V race bike.
With HRC previously showing interest in Zarco, over Lorenzo, the Japanese factory might have a second chance at destiny. As such, many in the MotoGP paddock see Zarco’s replacement ride for Nakagami has a try-before-you-buy type of affair.
If Zarco can show speed and potential on the Honda RC213V – a notoriously difficult motorcycle to ride if your name isn’t Marc Marquez – then the Frenchman could secure himself a factory ride for the 2020 season.
These are all big question marks, of course, with plenty of statements starting with the word “if” before making assertions. Still, it makes for some good palace intrigue.
For now, Zarco has three rounds within the LCR Honda team, which he is keen to make the most of. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens should his time there bear some fruitful results.
“Obviously we are very sorry that Nakagami is forced to miss the last three races of this season, but on the other hand we know that injuries are part and parcel of this sport,” said LCR Honda’s Lucio Cecchinello.
“I proposed to HRC Director Tetsuhiro Kuwata and Team Manager Alberto Puig the idea of engaging Zarco as our replacement rider and they gave me their approval.”
“When I contacted Zarco he immediately showed interest and together we worked on every step of this project that will conclude in Valencia. From our side we will ensure maximum effort to support Johann, a rider who has shown immense talent and professionalism in his racing career.”
Source: LCR Honda; Photo: © 2019 Philip Platzer / KTM – All Rights Reserved