The prolonged pause with the announcement of the Honda Racing teams in MotoGP is running out: even before the return of the championship in the UK, HRC should announce its decision – who will take the place of Paul Espargaro in Reprol, and who will perform with LCR.
Just yesterday, HRC and LCR Honda announced the completion of the 3-party contract with Alex Rees, who will be performing in the colors of LCR Castrol for the next two years. And the fate of the place in LCR Idemitsu, which is now occupied by Takaaki Nakagami, is decided in Tokyo. Leaks from the Japanese are traditionally few, all information comes exclusively from the European HRC camp.
Alberto Puig hinted during the holidays that the decision on the LCR co-pilot in Japan has already been made. As the team manager and the chief on the sports side of the issue, Alberto has been following Ai Ogura’s success very closely since the beginning of the 2022 season. It is likely that his word is the key. After all, Alberto has been working in Asia for 5 years to create the Honda Asia Talent Cup – the first “cup of talented juniors” in the series, which Dorna promotes around the world along with the Red Bull Rookies Cup. All the Japanese, Thais, Malaysians, and Indonesians that we see today in the Moto Grand Prix – all came out of there, and all of them, one way or another, Alberto supervised until 2019.
Alberto, of course, would like to wait until Ai Ogura becomes world champion in order to transfer him to the next step – MotoGP without any second thoughts, but nowadays, it is too expensive. Therefore…
“In general, I am a big fan of young racers. Because I have devoted my whole life to nurturing young talents. But nowadays, it is important to think very carefully about the decision about such transfers,” Puig said, answering a direct question about the fate of Ogura. “It is significant to imagine in advance how a recruit can lead after the first big accident. What does he know about the motorcycle and the concept of “setup”? Many aspects. Do not expect too much at once and decide in a hurry, you need to analyze calmly and check all the details. When Ai Ogura wins the Moto2 championship, it will mean a lot, because Moto2 is very competitive today. As a champion, the driver has every chance of joining MotoGP, this is a confirmation that he is 100% ready for this. But we can’t wait for October, so we’re deciding right now.”