John Hopkins will be chasing his first double-digit point score since round three of the 2008 MotoGP season, in Portugal, when he makes his belated Kawasaki debut on home US asphalt at this weekend's inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Hopkins missed out on July's Laguna Seca round due to leg injuries sustained at Assen, while an awkward rib injury has left the 25-year-old just eleventh and 13th in the two rounds since his return to action.
"I'm really excited about Indianapolis as it's my second home round and unfortunately I missed Laguna Seca because I was injured," he confirmed. "Not only that, but I grew up around the racing world, and although two-wheeled motorsport is my favourite, the family would all get together to watch races like the Brickyard and the Indianapolis 500 at this track.
"It's a very special feeling to be racing in MotoGP there, and although I'm not familiar with the circuit, I'm incredibly motivated for this event. I've been studying the track layout and Olivier [Jacque] tested the Ninja ZX-RR earlier this year, so we have a little bit of feedback from that, but being in front of my home fans at such an incredible place is going to be fantastic - I just can't wait to get out there."
The new Indianapolis MotoGP circuit uses the same main straight as the famous Indianapolis 500, combined with a recently altered infield layout.
It's a new challenge for all of the regular competitors in the premier-class but, as Hopkins stated, Kawasaki's test and development rider Olivier Jacque was one of the few to test at the track in July.
"The Indianapolis circuit is quite unusual and very different from the tracks that the MotoGP racers compete at in Europe," explained Jacque. "The circuit uses the straights from the famous oval, which lead onto an infield racetrack. The two main areas of concern are the difference in grip levels between these two sections, and the joins in the tarmac because they are quite slippery.
"The test we did earlier this year was quite successful for us and the Ninja ZX-RR was working well, particularly in the tight turns and the quick changes of direction. A good tyre choice will be an essential factor during the race as the second half of the track is very grippy and the machine is at maximum lean angle for a long period of time," concluded the Frenchman.
That long lean angle could prove something of an issue for Anthony West, who has been struggling with front-end issues for most of the season, but the 27-year-old Australian approaches round 14 hoping for an advantage.