John Hopkins's preparations for the start of the 2012 World Superbike Championship have been dealt a massive blow after a fall during testing at Phillip Island damaged his recently operated on hand.
Less than two weeks before the 2012 season gets underway around the Australian venue, Hopkins fell from his Crescent Fixi Suzuki during the opening day of an unofficial group test, which is being attended by almost the entire field.
Falling without having set a time, Hopkins was taken to hospital where x-rays revealed he has broken a bone in his right hand – the same hand on which he had a finger amputated last month.
Revealing on his Twitter account that the full extent of the break hasn't been determined and that he will be forced to return to the United States, the injury is another set-back for a man who has been hampered by a series of physical ailments during his racing career.
“Well I'm absolutely devastated to announce that after a high speed crash I've broke a bone in my R/ hand! Severity is yet to be determined.
“Unfortunately I'll be having to fly home tomorrow to be fully checked out by my "hand surgeon" and then make a plan from there.”
Team manager Jack Valentine added that the team should know later this week if Hopper can race in round one. "Let's all stay positive and have John back soon," Valentine wrote on his Twitter account (@JackValentine_1).
Should Hopkins fail to make round one, the second event (Imola) is not until April 1.
Following a successful return to competitiveness in the British Superbike Championship last season, ex-MotoGP rider Hopkins is set to embark on his first full season on WSBK racing with the same Crescent Fixi Suzuki team.
Hopkins was previously injured during testing at Phillip Island ahead of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship.
The American, then preparing for his first Kawasaki season, suffered a torn abductor muscle on the left side of his groin, forcing him to ride through 'excruciating pain' during his ZX-RR race debut.