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Jamie Klein

Honda test rider Nagashima gets Motegi MotoGP wildcard

Nagashima, 30, joined Honda last year after a four-year spell as a full-time Moto2 rider came to an end following the 2020 season, in which he finished eighth overall after winning the Qatar season opener.

Besides a handful of outings in the middleweight class for Italtrans as a replacement for an injured Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Nagashima mostly spent 2021 on the sidelines, spending his time preparing for Honda's ultimately successful attack on the Suzuka 8 Hours this year.

Nagashima was instrumental in giving Honda its first Suzuka win since 2014, scoring pole with a new lap record and winning by a full lap along with teammates Takumi Takahashi and Iker Lecuona.

Now Honda has rewarded Nagashima with the chance to join the MotoGP grid for his home race at Motegi aboard an additional RC213V in Team HRC colours.

It will mark the first time since 2015 that Honda has fielded a wildcard for its home race, with Takahashi finishing inside the points in 12th on that occasion.


"I will be competing in the premier MotoGP class, which I have dreamed of since I was a child," said Nagashima. "It is only a wild card entry for one race, but I will do my very best, and show my appreciation to HRC for giving me this opportunity with good results.

"In the Suzuka 8 Hours, everything went well from testing throughout race week and we won, so I’ll keep this momentum going into the Grand Prix of Japan.

"I feel that through conducting development tests as an HRC rider this year, my skills as a rider are improving, so I hope everyone will see how Tetsuta Nagashima rides now. I’ll do my best, so I hope everyone at the track, and spectators watching TV, will cheer for me."

Honda won't be the only manufacturer running a wildcard entry at Motegi, as Suzuki announced earlier this week that it will give long-serving test rider Takuya Tsuda a farewell appearance at his home track ahead of the Hamamatsu marque's departure from grand prix racing at the end of the year.

It will mark only Tsuda's second MotoGP appearance, with his first coming at Jerez in 2017 when he stood in for an injured Alex Rins.

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