Crash.net recently offered its viewers the opportunity to ask MotoGP star John Hopkins a question - on any subject - and, on the eve the British Grand Prix at Donington Park, Hopper took time out from his busy schedule to answer your questions.

The Anglo-American has built-up something of a 'fan friendly' reputation within the sport - and didn't disappoint when it came to speaking his mind for your Q&A.

So, if you want to know John's opinion of Valentino Rossi, Kenny Roberts Jr and Nicky Hayden, why he thinks Biaggi's behaviour is cowardly, why he stayed with Suzuki for 2005 and his thoughts on 2006, why he believes Mat Mladin - although a 'dick' - is the best rider not in MotoGP, who he hangs out with, when he gets to party, the electronics - or lack of them - on the GSV-R, what he thinks is the real reason behind the 800cc engine rule and much more... read on!

To avoid duplication, where similar questions were sent in for John, all the names were included under one heading. Crash.net would like to thank all those who participated in this Q&A. Enjoy...

Q: Are you in awe of Rossi, like everyone else seems to be, or are you chomping at the bit to have a better bike so you can challenge him? Do you think you could beat Valentino on a Honda or Yamaha? - MRB
- Melanie Cowper

John Hopkins: Basically I think that at the moment everyone is in awe of Rossi. The things he's doing are quite amazing. He does have good machinery, but on top of that he is the best rider in the world at the moment.

It's hard to say if I could beat him on a better bike. At the moment I don't have a bike to challenge him - the Suzuki is getting better every weekend and we're looking forward to having a bike so that we can challenge him. He's not unbeatable he's just the most consistent.

I'm looking forward to getting a better bike - and building a better bike with Suzuki -so I can go out and beat him.

Q: Hi John, back in the 1980s a system seemed to come about in the U.S. that produced a string of great international road racing champions - flat track to the F1/750 two-strokes, and ultimately on to 500 GPs on the world scene.
Nowadays US riders are coming to MotoGP from big four-stroke series like Formula Xtreme and Superbike, while a lot of European riders have come up through the smaller displacement GP ranks.

How did the transition to MotoGP feel to you, and do you have an opinion on the advantages/disadvantages of the different "feeder" systems into MotoGP?
- Jerry Hughes
John Hopkins: When I came into the series I came in on a 500 and I consider myself to be one of the luckiest - and last - persons to ever race a 500 two-stroke.

It was a lot different from anything I'd ever raced before, but I seemed to cope with it pretty well. I come from a Motocross background - I never did any dirt track whatsoever.

As far as the four-stroke MotoGP bikes, they're nothing like a Superbike or a Formula Extreme bike; they're getting more and more precise and basically more like a 500.

Q: Hi John, we met at Phillip Island last year - you signed my race license - anyhow I need some advice. I race bikes but I'm just not getting any faster. I try so hard, I brake later than almost anyone (like yourself) and nearly always have the rear end sliding out of the slower turns, problem is I'm still 6secs slower than my competitors.

It seems like I have to 'break my balls' (team America quote), just to come mid pack. What's the secret? Was there a moment when you were riding that you found a method that just would work for you, or even a way of thinking, anything? I ride a GSXR400 if that helps.
- Sean McConnell
John Hopkins: Without being able to see you ride and watch on track that's kind of a difficult question to answer. All I can say is crack at it, keep going and just try and soak up as much information from anyone who is riding faster than you.

What you need to do is try and follow - that's part of the game - what you need to do is just try and follow and feed in as much information as you can to go out there, chase and beat them.

Q: Can you tell me what is a "big-bang" engine and briefly how it works? I know it sounds different, almost "lumpier"... - Gino Howe
John Hopkins: Well Gino, I'm gonna have to say if you want that question answered you might want to talk to any of the Suzuki guys, because unfortunately for the fans - and myself - I don't know how to work on them and couldn't tell you much about it. I can tell you how they sound differently, but I just go out and ride it and try not to get too caught up in the technical side of it. Sorry!

Q: Why did you decide to stay in Suzuki at the end of last year and why is Suzuki underperforming in comparison to other Bridgestone-shod teams, Kawasaki in particular, so far this year? Thanks for the opportunity... - Luca

John Hopkins: I did have a couple of other options at the end of last year but Suzuki was pretty serious with the progress that they were making, we also had the new team manger - who I was really looking forward to working with - and Bridgestone.

Even though we've had a little bit of a difficult season so far, I still believe in Bridgestone and I did at the beginning of the year. I think they're a little bit down on information and basic knowledge, but they're getting better race in race out and I still believe they're going to make the progress to run at the front - as will Suzuki.

And I love my team. The team members are really good, I really enjoy working with the guys and even just working with the crew I have is worth half a second to a second, race in race out.

Q: What's your thoughts on real road racing? Proper, public road stuff, like the Isle Of Man TT? Any interest? - Simon Patterson

John Hopkins: I'm in awe and basically amazed with anyone that can race in the Isle of Man and the North West 200 and races like that. You know, it's just never been my thing. I've always raced for pure enjoyment - I like being on the edge, but not as far as being that close.

My basic feeling is that I like to get the most out of the machine, and the most out of myself - on tracks like that you can't be on the limit of the machine everywhere or it's gonna cause problems.

But I'm definitely in awe of anyone that does it and that's their thing. I'm sticking with MotoGP.

Q: Hello John, where do you own residences and where do you call "home base"? - John Dowling
John Hopkins: I have a home in San Diego, California, and I have a home here at Donisthorpe, up here in the East Midlands - direction Birmingham - so it's hard to say what I call home base.

I spend twice as much time over here, in the East Midlands, than I do in America but when it's all said and done going back to California this past week has been really, really good. I'd say half and half.

Q: Hopper, if you could change one MotoGP rule what would it be and why? - Mike Thomas
John Hopkins: I'd have to say the pitlane speed. I think it's a little too slow. I've already had quite a few infractions... But other than that everything is running pretty smoothly.

Q: Hi John, what's your view of Biaggi's behaviour at Assen? Has he ever blocked you or tried to intimidate you during practice by riding close when you've backed off? Also, would you have done what Melandri did? - Simon Smyth

John Hopkins: Well, Biaggi's behaviour is just out of line. I mean, in a way it's kind of cowardly because if he has a problem with somebody the only way he addresses it is out on the track when you're doing over 100mph. So I think it's very cowardly and I think it's completely stupid.

You know, he comes close to every single rider - I don't think there's a rider out on the track that's never had a problem with him. He just passes too close and I've had problems. Most of the time I let them go, but if I would have had the same problem Melandri did at Assen, yeah I would have done the same thing that Melandri did - if not more.

Q: John, in regards to your current achievements this season vs the 2004 season, has the GSV-R taken a step forwards or backwards? - Aren Asefi

John Hopkins: The GSV-R has actually made quite a few huge steps forward, but the worst thing that I think could have happened for MotoGP - and for all us other riders - has been Rossi going to Yamaha.

Because he is such a good development rider, he's taken Yamaha to a whole new level that they've never even experienced before - which is causing Honda to bring out all the stops and bring out everything that they had in the past locked up in the basement. They've brought it all out.

We've been leaping forward as well to try and catch up, and there have been some big changes, but we're looking for more.

Q: John, will you have to change manufacturer next season to further your career, as the Suzuki is clearly not as good as the Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Ducati? What are your options/intentions for 2006? - Carl Johnson
- Ryan Santoso
- Steve Eugene
- Andrew Melton

John Hopkins: You know, there are quite a few options out there and at the end of the day I have to do what's best for my career. I've got to say, right now, I'm quite pleased with Suzuki's progress.

I believe that Paul Denning and the engineers in Japan know what needs to happen, and we're working with them, but I am talking to other teams as well and that's all part of the silly season.

Right now I can only say that I'm going to what's best for my career, but to leave Suzuki now would be pretty tough considering I have a great, great crew that I'd extremely miss.
Q: How good are the Bridgestones over a race distance and can the limited feedback they are getting from fewer teams keep them in the hunt? Why has Suzuki not been able to get adequate performance and reliability from their engines? Is the engine layout to blame? - Etienne Prinsloo
- Johnny Spence

John Hopkins: The Bridgestones over a race distance - it depends what track we're at. I answered it a bit before, but I think it's just a lack of knowledge and experience from track-to-track that's causing the problems.

Bridgestone are still in the learning process and Michelin have got some great tyres for their riders this year. We're just a little bit of a step behind and over the race distance they do seem to wear out quite bad.

Michelin basically have loads and loads and loads of experience for every track, race distance or not, and unfortunately Bridgestone doesn't at the moment. But that's what we're trying to achieve, just give them as much experience so they can go build us some winning tyres.

To be honest with you - on the Suzuki question - if I really, really knew why it broke down all the time it'd be good because they'd know how to fix it. But trust me I get frustrated with the whole situation and it's getting better and better. As far as the engine layout goes, I wouldn't say that's to blame.

Q: John, who in your opinion is the best rider not in MotoGP at the moment? - Jason Wright

John Hopkins: That's a real difficult question. To me, at the moment, the rider I think - even though I dislike him personally and he dislikes me - we don't get along one bit - but I would say the best rider right now who is not in MotoGP is probably Mat Mladin back in America.

He knows how to win, he's winning consistently and doing the best he can... I think he's a dick but, you know, I think he's definitely the best! Troy (Corser) is doing an excellent job, but I'd have to go with Mat I think.
What's the situation with you and Nicky Hayden? Is he your biggest rival in MotoGP? - 'Fast' Frankie Hodges

John Hopkins: Well fast Frankie, I would have to say that Nicky Hayden is by far my biggest rival in MotoGP. We're both young Americans and of course I'm out to beat him. He is on a machine that's a better machine than I'm on at the moment, but every race I'd like to beat him.

I believe that we are the future of MotoGP and I believe that in the near future we'll be battling for the championship, so definitely I'd say he's my biggest rival.

Q: Melandri said recently that Rossi stopped speaking to him after he began to get close to him in the races this year. How do you get on with Valentino? - Amy S.

John Hopkins: I completely agree with that. I get along on a speaking terms basis with Rossi, but that's the way he reacts to people. If he feels anyone gets close to him, he completely cuts them off and that's completely understandable in the business we're in.

He wants to win and he doesn't need to make friends with anyone he races with. It was a similar situation with Sete, even though he and Sete weren't the greatest friends to begin with. That's how Rossi does it and it seems to work for him doesn't it!
Q: John, I bet you get loads of 'armchair experts' offering you advice all the time on what you should do, how you should ride etc, but who are the people you really listen to/turn to for advice? - Mike Spur
John Hopkins: To be honest with you, the people I turn to for advice are just the people that are close to me and around me - whether it be family, girlfriend - and as far as racing and the machine it's all about my team.

That's what the team's for - that's why you build up a relationship with your team. You just want to get as close as possible to them, especially your crew chief. My crew chief has been around a long, long time, he's seen a lot of riders and I'll turn to him if I need advice, or the team manager.

I don't really go out seeking help, you just sort of find it all around you.

Q: How many of the current 21 rider MotoGP grid do you think need to go and be replaced by more hungry up-and-coming riders like yourself? Seems like there's a lot of guys on good rides that have been around for years. Cheers... - Tommy Jones

John Hopkins: Well, basically I think you've just taken the words straight out of my mouth. I do think there are a lot of riders that are riding strictly on their passports right now.

I think it easy to tell who they are, there's no need to name names, but there are a lot of young and up-and-coming riders - whether they be British, European or American - and I believe there's going to be a big change here in the future.

Hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later, because some people have had their time - they've done what they've come to do - and now it's time to pass it on to a younger generation.

Q: Hey John, which other riders do you hang out with most at the GPs? What do you guys get up to when you're not riding - can you party much at the races or is it all too 'corporate'? - Chris Kirby

John Hopkins: I like to keep to my friends and I've already made enough friends here in MotoGP - so I can just hang out with them and not worry about making friends with other people.

The people I get along with the most I would say are Shane Byrne and Alex Hofmann. We're buddies - Hofmann just spent this last week at my house riding Motocross - so yeah, we get along really well.

As far as the partying... Sunday night you've got to let your hair down. I mean anyone that doesn't is a little bit too uptight. Sunday is meant for letting your hair down and that's what it's all about.

No-one parties while at the track, it's not about being corporate it's just being professional about it. Sunday night though - that's fun!

Q: Can you tell us about the electronic 'rider aids' in MotoGP such as launch and traction control and how, as a rider, you set them up/work with them to get the most performance? How important are they in terms of lap time? - Tim Andrews
John Hopkins: Well I think you're asking the wrong person because, unfortunately, Suzuki doesn't have a traction control system and, unfortunately, Suzuki doesn't have a launch control system. We're still working with the basics and trying to improve them.

I think there's too many electronics on the MotoGP machine and quite a lot of them have been deleted from our bike to get a better set-up and better rider feel. But for the people that do have them it creates a huge difference and right now it's one of our biggest downfalls. But Suzuki is working on it and we'll have it soon.

Q: How does it make you feel when you are the only rider at Suzuki that is putting the effort in? The bike obviously needs development, but Kenny riding around like 'Driving Miss Daisy' isn't going to get the job done! - Chris Jenkins
John Hopkins: (Laughs) Well Chris, it's good that somebody shares my same feelings - exactly really. Right now the bike's still in its development stage, which it has been for the past four-years, that's not an excuse it's just fact.

I'm doing everything I can to get the Suzuki built for what I need, so I couldn't care less what anyone else thinks, but two heads are better than one, as they say. I honestly give 110% every time I'm out on the track - Suzuki knows that and I really hope they start looking to me for what the bike needs.

It's kind of hard to develop a bike when you're only riding around at 70-80%, so that's a disappointment, but I'm doing everything I can so that's all that matters to me.
Q: Do you take some pride from regularly beating Kenny considering he's a world champion? If you could pick any team-mate who would it be and why? - James K.
- Koos van Staden

John Hopkins: Well it's not about taking pride, I mean of course whenever you're racing - and you can't win the race - the first person you turn to beat is a) the other person on the exact same bike as you and b) the other persons on the exact same tyres as you.

If I could pick any team-mate, I would say I would want Alex Hofmann, basically because we're such good friends. We could work together to build the bike and I think he's a very strong, young, rider himself and is going to be in MotoGP for a very long time. We could feed off each other to get better and better lap times.

Q: Hi John, can you tell us what you think about the 800cc engine rules coming in? Do you think it will shake-up the current order in MotoGP? Will you need to change ridding style? Do you think MotoGP bikes are too fast at the moment? - Sarah Newman
- Henri Maschio

John Hopkins: My feeling on the 800cc rule, it may be politics, but I think Dorna and a lot of other people have... I think the safety issue is bullshit really. I think the 800cc bikes are going to be faster and the lap times are going to be better - the bikes are going to rev a heck of a lot higher.

It's hard to say about safety because I don't really think that's an issue. I think it's basically to help out the riders that are coming from 125 and 250 so that Dorna can keep it 'Spanish and Italian side'.

I mean, there's a lot of Spanish and Italian riders coming through the 125 and 250s who might find it a little more difficult to jump to a MotoGP machine from a 250, whereas people that are in Superbike and racing bigger classes in Australia, America, Britain - places like that - I think they would find it easier to jump on a MotoGP machine than a 250 rider.

But it's good in the sense that there are a lot of really talented 250 riders coming up - and I honestly look forward to racing every one of them.

To find out more about John Hopkins and Team Suzuki visit www.hopperracing.com and www.suzuki-motogp.com