Rizla Suzuki has confirmed that John Hopkins will replace the injured Alvaro Bautista at round two of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, in Jerez.
Bautista, the only Suzuki grand prix rider after the factory scaled back its MotoGP project for 2011, broke his left femur in a Friday night practice fall ahead of round one of the new racing season in Qatar.
Dorna has made no secret of its displeasure at Suzuki's single-rider effort and the team surely felt under pressure to make sure it could still be on the grid on Sunday.
However, after “exhausting all possible scenarios”, including “tentative approaches to several Moto2 riders that have MotoGP experience”, Suzuki has had to formally withdraw from this weekend's event.
Former Suzuki MotoGP rider Hopkins was the obvious choice to step-in, having ridden the GSV-R at Qatar last weekend.
But Hopper was back in America, while factory test rider Nobuatsu Aoki was likewise unable to leave Japan in time due to the huge disruption caused by the earthquake and tsunami.
Hopkins will however ride Bautista's bike at round two of the championship, at Jerez in Spain, from April 1-3.
“The 2011 season hasn't yet started and to have this huge disappointment already is very difficult to deal with,” admitted team manager Paul Denning.
“The winter tests have been consistent and competitive, especially bearing in mind Alvaro's 'race-day' mentality and his love of fighting with the other guys rather than just riding – we always expect more from him in the races than in the tests, so everything was looking good.
“The reason for the crash was quite simple - pushing too hard in this section without enough temperature in the new tyre - very similar to Rossi's accident in Mugello last year.
“But the real reasons behind that - maybe feeling some pressure after losing track time on Thursday night with the arm pump, wanting to get back into the top group of lap-times as soon as possible - are more complex and unfortunately Alvaro paid a heavy price.