LCR Honda Press Release: Zarco Confirmed As Nakagami's Replace For Last 3 MotoGP Rounds

In a press release today, the LCR Honda team confirmed that Johann Zarco would be taking the place of Takaaki Nakagami in the LCR Honda Idemitsu team for the last three races of the 2019 MotoGP season. For more background on the story, see our articles yesterday and last week.

The press release announcing Zarco as replacement appears below:



Due to Takaaki Nakagami’s premature end to the season because of a shoulder operation, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU Team will line up with French rider Johann Zarco for the remaining grands prix in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia. The two-time Moto2 World Champion and 2017 MotoGP class Rookie of the Year has accepted the offer from Team Manager Lucio Cecchinello to get back on track on board the Honda RC213V in IDEMITSU colors.

Lucio Cecchinello (LCR Honda Team Principal): “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. 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.”

Johann Zarco

“What an opportunity to have the last few races of the season on the LCR Honda IDEMITSU bike. I’m really thankful to have this chance, and I will do my best to pick up some good results and to enjoy the time, because these could be the last three races I can do for a while. I would like to thank KTM for releasing me so that I can do these races on another bike. Let’s see what I can do. First of all I know that I will enjoy the Phillip Island track, it’s a fast circuit and I think the feeling could be good. We’ll cross our fingers that it can be, and we will see what is possible. The target is to ride at a good pace, and rediscover some of the good feeling I’ve had before.”

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I don't think anyone should expect this to be that much different. Likely better results, but not drasitcally better. Zarco rides much the same way Lorenzo does and we've all see how that's gone.

Good Luck Johann, you're gonna need it.

I'm not sure anyone expects Zarco to trouble the top ten on a year old bike he's never ridden before, but if does the right things it won't matter. Thank Honda for the chance, thank KTM for being so honourable, tell everyone how great and professional the LCR guys are, smile to the cameras, buy a round of beers after Valencia. As bad as this year has been I'll bet there's still plenty of people who would put his on their bike if they're convinced he's learned from it.

I can see from here how doomed JZ5 is yet those closest to the situation seem think that somehow putting a Yamaha rider on a Honda is a good idea...while on the Repsol team they have the bitter fruit of this exact same policy. Mind boggled

Who says good Yamaha riders can't ride Hondas? A really good rider can ride a good bike to good results as far as I can tell, as long as they have some time. 

Dovi scores podiums on a Yamaha and then scored podiums on a Honda 

Crutchlow scored podiums on a Yamaha and then scored podiums and victories on a Honda

Give an example of a really good rider that flopped on a good bike, even if the  required riding style was different. It might take time but they usually get it. Lorenzo right now is not a good example because he is hurt and the 2019 Honda is very difficult to ride. That bike is being flattered by the most talented rider to ever live (arguably). The 2017 and 2018 Ducatis were great bikes but it just took JLo a while to figure them out, and then he was hot. 

I wouldn't bet against Zarco getting on the 2018 Honda and beating his best KTM results all three races. Does anybody think Nakagami is better than Zarco?

We shall see in a couple weeks!!!  :)

I get the reasoning why this probably won't end well, but all things considered, if HRC calls you up and says: "Hey, come ride our bike", you're probably going to take them up on it.

When I contacted Zarco he immediately showed interest...

Of course he did!  When you walk out on your factory ride without a contingency plan and then someone hands you this opportunity, you most definitely "show interest".

Zarco is a better credentialed rider than Nakagami in every way and there is nothing in Nakagami's style that makes him more suited to the narrowly focused 2018 Honda.

If Zarco can get find some confidence on the Honda (a big if) he should do alright.

If not, I remember a fews Moto2 racers where he didn't feel good and was suddenly no where, and of course his complete inability to adjust to the difficult KTM was a sign of real vulnerability.

His heart rate when he pulls out of the pits for the first time would be worth monitoring. He could be riding the next three races for his MotoGP career.

I tend to agree with all you've said, though the fan in me wants to say most of his poor Moto2 races were on the Motobi & Suter. I feel that this is only a good deal for him if the Yamaha test deal will still be on the table after this Honda fling is over and done 

In his second Moto2 Championship year in 2016, mounted on a Kalex, Zarco came 11, 12 x 2, 22 and 24th in races. Some of these resulted from errors, but my recollection is that in some of these poor results he was not happy with the bike and/or tyres and never found the speed that served him so well in the rest of the races.

I of course thought you might be referencing his pre-championship seasons. My recollection is an interview where he had said that he lost his focus because the pressure of getting championship #2 got the best of him. But then my memory isn't what it used to be...

Also wanted to say good on Stephan & KTM for honoring their promise! <respect>

surely more exposure to another bike very different to the Yamaha would be advantageous for their new expanding European test team?

electronics setup, feedback on engine characteristics, etc. 

now I think about it, this is the rider who was quoted with Tech3 about just wanting to ride the bike, and it's the engineers and mechanics job to set it all up.....( or something like that)

either way, interesting last three races.

I have seen no evidence that JZ would be a good development test rider at all but I figured it would be his only way back to the MGP grid because in this day, heading to another series (even in the same paddock) is going to be a one way journey. Well today Jonas was re-signed to head the test team again so that gig is now off the table for JZ. Now it seems it's Honda or bust... or wait and hope against hope he can get a sat. Suzuki ride in a couple of years over less expensive, younger & moldable riders coming up from Moto2.  Well I will hope for the best, but what I expect... 

I do wonder how well he got on with Dani during their brief stint together though as that could certainly give him a leg up for this endevour. ;)



but the 2018 Honda is a different beast.If JZ can feel confident in the front,which is what the 2019 bike doesnt do for Cal and JZ he may do very well 

Zarco on the Honda is a tactical move by HRC to slow up Yamaha's european test rider team developement. Maybe it is better for HRC if Johann is Marc's teammate accumulating middling results next year.    

But then, a certain Honda rider transitioned very well to a Yamaha that needed ‘adjustments’.

Maybe the 2018 bike is not so far off the 2020 either. There’s only one way to find out answer to the first part of the equation.

If I was Yamaha this might be part of sneaky plan.