John Hopkins is confident his recently amputated finger won't affect his performance when he makes his full-time international racing return in the 2012 World Superbike Championship.
The American, who first injured the finger in a fall during practice for the Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno in August, opted to have part of it removed following repeat complications and surgery over the winter.
Despite the extreme solution, Hopkins is unfazed by the ailment, insisting the fourth finger is not one he requires much to ride a bike, even if he admits it may feel awkward initially.
"I have been keeping the injury clean and so on, so there is no infection," Hopkins told WorldSBK.com
. "It is going to be a little different feeling, probably a bit awkward, when I get on the bike for the first time.
“But the fact that it is the fourth finger means it is probably the least used, as far as gripping the bars, braking and throttle is concerned. It is something I will have to get used to but I do not think it will affect me tremendously. When I get used to it, I think it will be good."
Having made a handful of outings for Stiggy Honda back in 2009, Hopkins will make his full-time WSBK debut in 2012 after re-signing with Crescent Suzuki, the team with which he challenged for the 2011 MCE British Superbike Championship.
Getting the first chance to trial the hand in just over a week at Phillip Island, Hopkins is confident he can carry his BSB competitiveness into the world championship.
"I am very much looking forward to this year and we are going to have as good a chance as anyone. I get along really well with the team, the bike seems really good, and I feel a whole lot better within myself - personally, mentally, with my fitness, everything.
“I feel a lot better on the Suzuki than I ever did on '09 on the Stiggy bike. I was injured still then, and it was just not a good time for me, but I feel a lot better. More motivated and hungry to go out and fight for the win."
"I am back in a World Championship and it is no means going to be easy. There is a lot of stiff competition out there with all the guys that are riding.”
Hopkins will ride alongside Leon Camier, who is switching to Crescent Suzuki after two seasons with Aprilia.