Ahead of his World Superbike race debut at Valencia this weekend, former MotoGP star John Hopkins got his first taste of the Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR during a test session at Almeria on Monday.
Hopper, absent from the track for nearly four months, claimed to have gained a positive first impression of his new motorcycle - 200cc larger than presently used in MotoGP - and feels he is well prepared for Valencia.
"I am really happy with the testing we have done in Almeria,” said the Anglo-American. “The first impression of the bike and my new team is really good. The size of the motorcycle makes a big difference; it feels good to be able to move around on the bike again.
“After my disappointing season last year, it's great to get out on track and enjoy riding a bike again,” admitted John, who was 16th in the MotoGP championship after an injury littered first-and-last season at Kawasaki. “I've never been on a Superbike in my life but the size of the motorcycle makes a big difference and suits my style.
“I am looking forward to racing in Valencia this weekend and feel I am coming well prepared, despite not having had a lot of time on-track yet. I know the Valencia track well and should be able to put in a good performance,” he concluded.
“John has shown to be very easy to work with,” added team manager John Stigefelt. “He's very optimistic and professional. He is not rushing anything, but just takes it step by step. Our main goal for him here today was to learn adapt to the bike and understand the structure in the team. It shows that he really enjoys being out on the bike again.
“We still have to sort some things out, but overall I am happy with another step forward. Unfortunately we do not have too much time in the race weekends to test parts and develop the bike, so I am hoping for some more time on-track tomorrow morning.
“I am happy with the first impression John has given the team. We already know Leon [Haslam] is fast and to see John step in and show his potential on the bike is just promising."
Haslam has taken one podium from the first two rounds (four races) of the 2009 World Superbike Championship and currently sits fifth in the standings, and just four points from third placed Max Neukirchner.