The ‘rocket’ Honda MotoGP wildcard who will shock at Motegi

This weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix will see a return to racing (and a debut MotoGP race) for former Moto2 title contender Tetsuta Nagashima who’s being tipped by one in all his fellow racers as this weekend’s potential shock star.

The previous Crimson Bull KTM Ajo racer will line up in manufacturing facility Honda colors at his house observe thanks partially to his new function of HRC MotoGP take a look at rider and partially as a reward for his largest success of 2022 as a part of the three-rider staff to lastly return Honda to successful methods on the historic Suzuka 8 Hour, nonetheless Japan’s most necessary motorbike race.

And, with the 30-year-old just lately taking to the Motegi circuit alongside Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha’s take a look at rider and this weekend’s WithU Yamaha alternative for the retired Andrea Dovizioso, the Brit says that quite a lot of folks could be stunned on the efficiency that Nagashima is ready to ship.

“It was an excellent take a look at,” stated Crutchlow of his final outing at Motegi as a part of the manufacturing facility’s quest to ship the quicker 2023 bike that championship chief Fabio Quartararo has been calling out for.

“You’ll be stunned with Nagashima this weekend. He was a rocket on the take a look at. Actually quick, actually spectacular. And he did an ideal job. He’s a pleasant child. He was using actually rather well on the take a look at, it’ll be good to see him this weekend on the wildcard.”

The highway that has taken the married father of three to a MotoGP trip two seasons after shedding his full-time seat in Grand Prix racing hasn’t been a straightforward one, although.

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First debuting in 2013 as a Moto2 wildcard at Motegi, he grew to become a full-time racer in 2014 however failed to attain a degree on board experimental TSR and NTS equipment. Demoted to the European Moto2 championship for 2 seasons (and ending runner-up to Steven Odendaal in 2016) he purchased himself a return to Grand Prix for 2017 and by the top of the 2019 season had achieved sufficient to earn himself the category’ final spot in Aki Ajo’s Crimson Bull KTM staff.

He instantly managed to repay that belief, too, successful the primary race of the season in Qatar proper earlier than the championship went right into a highly-unexpected four-month pandemic lockdown. Beginning the place he left off with second in Jerez on the subsequent race, he went on to get pleasure from a persistently quick season that noticed him end eighth total – however one way or the other, with out a trip for 2021.

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How precisely that occurred stays one thing of a thriller, however there have been hints within the paddock a few late announcement that the Finnish staff wouldn’t be retaining him and the dearth of appropriate alternate options, aided, maybe, by the stresses of being other than his younger household all through the 2020 season because of COVID.

Regardless of the end result, he landed on his ft – by way of a three-race cameo in Moto2 final yr – with a brand new job as Honda’s Japanese-based take a look at rider, a job historically devoted much less to efficiency and extra to quite mundane duties like reliability testing, one thing that often doesn’t even contain the prospect to make use of Michelin’s MotoGP tyres to save lots of the restricted testing allocation of solely 120 for Honda’s European take a look at rider Stefan Bradl.

However whereas it may not be the glamour of racing in Grand Prix each weekend, Nagashima’s new job got here with one other quite extra thrilling facet gig – the prospect to race at Suzuka in manufacturing facility colors alongside World Superbike star (and his former Moto2 rival) Iker Lecuona and fellow Honda take a look at rider Takumi Takahashi.

Profitable the race for Honda on the circuit they personal for the primary time since 2014, beating Kawasaki and Suzuki’s personal manufacturing facility efforts and setting a brand new private lap file on path to pole place as well, it’s clear that he’s achieved sufficient to be rewarded by Honda for his success – one thing that’s taking place within the type of a wildcard that Nagashima hinted may mark a approach again into full time racing sooner or later.

“I will probably be competing within the premier MotoGP class,” he stated, “which I’ve dreamed of since I used to be a toddler. It is just a wild card entry for one race, however I’ll do my best possible, and present my appreciation to HRC for giving me this chance with good outcomes.

“I really feel that via conducting improvement assessments as an HRC rider this yr, my expertise as a rider are bettering, so I hope everybody will see how Tetsuta Nagashima rides now. I’ll do my greatest, so I hope everybody on the observe, and spectators watching TV, will cheer for me.”

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