» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net MotoGP News

Will John Hopkins make Suzuki MotoGP return?

4 February 2011

Rizla Suzuki team manager Paul Denning has hinted that former MotoGP star John Hopkins could return to the GSV-R in 2011.

Hopper raced in MotoGP with Suzuki from 2003 to 2007, his results steadily improving to a peak of four podiums and fourth overall in the '07 world championship.

A high-profile switch to Kawasaki lasted just one season before the factory's withdraw and coincided with the start of a punishing run of injuries, which continued when Hopkins switched to World Superbikes in 2009 and AMA SBK in 2010.

But Hopkins rebuilt his fitness, and form, in AMA late last year - prompting Denning to sign the recharged 27-year-old for his Crescent Suzuki BSB team.

The deal, which Denning and Hopkins hope will help re-launch the American's international career, also includes a wild-card ride in the Donington Park WSBK round.

“The current plan, just subject to a couple of things happening, is to definitely run John in the European World Superbike race at the end of March, before the BSB season starts,” Denning told Crash.net at this week's Sepang test.

And what about a ride on the Suzuki MotoGP bike?

“Watch this space…” smiled Denning.

Rizla Suzuki has scaled down to one MotoGP bike, for Alvaro Bautista, in 2011, meaning the logistics of - for example - a wild-card ride for Hopkins would be more easily overcome.

One thing is certain, Denning (and Crescent) still hold Hopkins in very high regard and have proud memories of what they achieved together during 2007.

Suzuki's best year of the four-stroke era was highlighted by a wet race win for team-mate Chris Vermeulen, but Hopkins finished higher in the standings and - had it not been for the extraordinary Casey Stoner/Ducati combination - Denning believes Hopkins would also have been victorious.

“From 17-years-old John was on the grand prix scene and went through a lot of pain and a lot of effort to get to the top level,” said Denning. “He delivered incredibly well for us in 2007. Very, very strong. If it hadn't been for a certain Mr Stoner absolutely dusting everybody John would have won a race.

“The talent is undoubted. He had a horrible time in the last couple of years. Injuries have led to not only physical problems, but difficulties in terms of doing his job, which has perhaps led to other problems.

“But the operation on his wrist has been super-successful. And when I met him at Laguna last year he looked fit, healthy, focussed and bright. You just got a sense that he's ready to get back into it and do a proper job again.

“He also came back quite strong at the end of AMA last year, and scored a couple of podiums.

“We're really excited. John's ultra focussed on getting back to a high level. We're under no illusions: We see this as it was perhaps for Sylvain Guintoli in 2009 - as a stepping stone back to the top level.

“If we can help him make that happen, nothing would make me happier. John's still only 27 and he's got a lot of opportunities in front of him.”

Crescent Suzuki came agonizingly close to winning the BSB title with Tommy Hill last season.


» BACK TO CRASH.NET