Tetsuta Nagashima was left out of Moto2 last year, having spent four seasons as a full-time rider. The Japanese, who went on to win the Qatar Grand Prix, then joined the Honda test team.
Nagashima was sidelined from the competition in 2021, barring a handful of substitutions in Moto2, where he filled in for the injured Lorenzo Dalla Porta at Italtrans.
In addition, this year he participated in the 8 Hours of Suzuka, where he won the victory. Nagashima was instrumental in giving Honda its first victory at Suzuka since 2014, setting pole with a new lap record and winning by a lap, along with team-mates Takumi Takahashi and Iker Lecuona.
Now, Honda wants to reward Nagashima with the chance to join the MotoGP grid for his home race at Motegi aboard a fifth RC213V in HRC team colours.
It will be the first time since 2015 that Honda has fielded a wildcard for its home race. So, the chosen one was Takahashi, who finished inside the points, in the 12th position.
“I will compete in MotoGP; it is what I have dreamed of since I was a child,” said Nagashima. “It’s just a wildcard, but I’ll do my best, and I’ll try to thank HRC for the opportunity with a good result.”
“In the Suzuka 8 Hours everything went well, from practice to the race, and we won, so I’ll try to maintain that performance going into the Japanese Grand Prix.”
“I feel like my driving skills are improving being a Honda tester, so I hope everyone will see how Tetsuta Nagashima drives now. I will do my best, and I hope the fans will cheer me on.”
Honda won’t be the only manufacturer to field a wildcard at Motegi, as Suzuki announced earlier this week that it will race veteran test rider Takuya Tsuda at its home track, before the Hamamatsu-based marque leaves MotoGP at the end of the year. .
It will be Tsuda’s second appearance in MotoGP. The first was in Jerez in 2017, when he replaced the injured Alex Rins.