John Hopkins will spend the majority of the 2011 racing season in the British Superbike series, but his performance over the last few days in Jerez has shown that he is capable of competing in the MotoGP.
Hopkins is currently filling in for an injured Alvaro Bautista on the Rizla Suzuki team. Hopkins spent two years on a MotoGP motorcycle, but this weekend in Jerez is the first time this season that he has ridden the Suzuki GSV-R on a competitive track. He isn’t at the top of the time sheets, but Hopkins is showing he still has what it takes to compete at the premier level.
“These two days have demonstrated two things. One that John Hopkins still deserves to be riding at the top level of the sport, and secondly, that Suzuki has done a great job to develop the GSV-R into a package that – without any adjustments at all – has allowed John to qualify the bike so competitively,” said Paul Denning, manager of the Rizla Suzuki team. ”
Over two years away from riding a MotoGP machine – and the amount of braking force and mechanical grip that they have compared to production bikes – means that John’s timing is inevitably a bit off and also that whilst he’s very fit, there is a difference between normal fitness and MotoGP racing fitness,” Denning added. “The 27-laps tomorrow will be tough, but irrespective of what happens in the race itself, John has done a fantastic job so far and we couldn’t have wished for a better stand-in for Álvaro.”
Hopkins qualified in 14th place, 1.5 seconds behind the pace setter. But considering that the Repsol Honda team is lapping more than a second ahead of most of the MotoGP grid, Bautista’s time is rather impressive.
“I don’t really know where to start,” Hopkins said. “It’s been a good day and we’ve taken everything step-by-step to get where we are.
“I am very pleased and it feels so awesome to be back out there, especially in front of the Jerez crowd. I’m having so much fun on the motorcycle and really excited about riding, I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow and try and get the best result possible. Obviously the goal is to try and get into the top 10 and if we can that would be great. Most importantly though I want to go out and enjoy myself and put on a good show for the fans and the sponsors and especially for the team for all the faith that they’ve put in to me – I hope I can reward them with a good result.”
Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com