MotoGP exile John Hopkins has confirmed he will join the World Superbike Championship with the Stiggy Honda team from Valencia onwards.
Hopkins has been heavily linked with Johan Stigefelt's team in recent weeks, but only now, having seen his last chance of reunification with Kawasaki come to nothing, has a deal been signed.
Although it isn't currently clear whether Hopkins will ride a third Honda CBR1000RR or replace one of Stiggy's existing riders, the American revealed that he will be on the grid with the team from the third round of the championship at Valencia, Spain.
Thanking Kawasaki for allowing him to pursue other projects, Hopkins, who follows in the footsteps of Max Biaggi, Makoto Tamada and Shinya Nakano, is excited by the challenges that face him.
“Kawasaki and I worked it out where both parties left the relationship happy, and I am thankful to Kawasaki for letting me ride their bikes and race in their program,” Hopkins, who will bring valuable Monster backing with him, said. “I'm excited about racing in the 2009 season and solely putting my focus on moving forward.”
Hopkins had been tipped to make a World Superbike move from the moment Kawasaki confirmed it was withdrawing from MotoGP for financial reasons back in January.
However, while Hopkins was in line to replace the then-injured Roberto Rolfo at the start of the season, the prospect of a revived deal with Kawasaki – under the Hayate banner - is thought to have stalled negotiations. Only when it was apparent that Hayate would be built around Marco Melandri, did Hopkins reignite his Superbike plans.
Joining Ben Spies in increasing America's prominent involvement in the series, his arrival will be seen as another huge boost for the rapidly ascending production series.
Although he joins a privateer Honda team, Stiggy have already shown they are capable of good results in 2009 having helped Leon Haslam to a podium in their first meeting at Phillip Island.