Honda has confirmed that its protege Takaaki Nakagami will graduate to MotoGP next season as part of an expanded two-bike LCR team.
Nakagami, 25, has been a regular in the Moto2 class since 2012, taking a breakthrough first victory at Assen last year and scoring a career-best sixth place in the standings that year.
The former Japanese Moto2 champion has struggled to replicate that form in 2017 however, currently lying seventh in the standings with three podium finishes to his name.
Whether LCR, which currently runs a sole Honda for Cal Crutchlow, would return to running a second bike as it did in 2015 has been the subject of speculation for some time, with Nakagami being linked to a possible berth with the team early in the year.
But with Crutchlow becoming a factory Honda rider for the 2018 season, it paved the way for LCR, with the support of the Japanese firm and Dorna, to sign Nakagami as teammate to the Brit.
"Since riding a pocket bike when I was four years old, I have always aimed to compete with the world’s best," said Nakagami. "This opportunity has become real thanks to all of my associates and fans.
"There are still seven Moto2 races left this season, including the Japanese Grand Prix. I’ll be concentrating on these races, while gaining the abilities I need for next year. I hope everyone will continue to support me the way they have up to now.”
Nakagami becomes the first full-time MotoGP rider from Japan since Hiroshi Aoyama, who has made sporadic appearances as a wild-card and replacement rider since losing his Aspar Honda seat at the end of 2014.
2018 MotoGP rider line-up so far:
|Marc VDS Honda||
|Tech 3 Yamaha||