James Whitham thinks John Hopkins will be a front runner when he makes his World Superbike debut during the latest round of the championship at Valencia, Spain.

The American is getting ready for his high-profile arrival in the premier Superbike series this weekend, where his progress on the Stiggy Racing Honda will be closely watched by teams, rivals and fans alike.

Indeed, Hopkins comes to the championship having never competed at Superbike level before, but having seen Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa make a successful switch in recent years, it is hoped he can follow in their footsteps.

For Eurosport commentator Whitham, the former Kawasaki MotoGP rider should be fighting it out at the front when he makes his debut.

"He hasn't ridden a Superbike ever in his life, but anybody who has arrived from MotoGP will be straight on top of the electronics, which is a big part of it these days," he told Crash.net.

"However, most of the circuits he won't have done as only a few coincide with MotoGP, so he is on a huge learning curve. He is on a good bike though and there is no doubting 'Hoppers' talent."

Set to capitalise on the series' popularity following the success of countryman Ben Spies, Whitham admits, however, that Hopkins can be prone to the odd mistake.

"He can be fallible though and he does blow hot and cold. You don't know what he's going to do next. Also, he has been accused of not having the aggression and the commitment, so I don't know whether he is as rounded and as complete at Ben Spies.

"Nonetheless he certainly has the speed and the talent to run up the front when things go his way."


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