With the increasing likelihood that Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez won't be at either of the Qatar Tests in six weeks' time, responsibility within the HRC camp will surely now fall onto the shoulders of LCR Honda Idemitsu's Takaaki Nakagami. Following his best season yet in MotoGP™ last year, eventually taking tenth in the World standings, the Japanese rider looks set to start the season as HRC's most experienced man alongside new-boy Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) and sophomore Alex Marquez (LCR Honda).
But with Nakagami himself embarking on his first year on a full-factory machine having competed on the 2019 RC213V last year, it won't come without some difficulties. HRC's 2020 testing programme dominated headlines when they ditched their latest aero package at the last second in Qatar in order to find some answers. Team bosses will certainly be hoping 2021 doesn't follow a similar pattern.
Nakagami, though, isn't too concerned heading to Qatar, feeling confident that Espargaro will be able to adapt from the KTM to the Honda in no time before then playing a vital role in setting the team up for a successful 2021.
"I saw the news about Marc," started the 28-year-old when asked about his new responsibilities within HRC following Marquez' third surgery. "And I’m really sorry to hear about it. I was thinking he’d be ready for 2021 from the beginning but that looks difficult at the moment.
"Pol is, of course, coming to Repsol Honda this season and he has a lot of experience from KTM, he knows very well how to ride a MotoGP bike. I think he’ll be able to make the switch to the Honda quite easy.
"We are the satellite team, not the factory team, so I don’t know about the parts yet. Of course, we have some new parts, and we will try these parts, but I don’t know if that will be on the first day or the last day. We need to chat with HRC."