John Hopkins has announced that he will take a year out from motorcycle racing with a view to getting back to full fitness after another season beset by physical woes.
The FIXI Crescent Suzuki rider opted out of the 2012 World Superbike Championship season finale in France after aggravating the hip injury that has hampered him since it was sustained in an accident at Monza some six months ago.
Now Hopkins has confirmed that he will spend the 2013 season on the sidelines so as to undergo tests for a possible hip replacement and give him time to return to full race fitness.
“I have really struggled with my hip since the crash at Monza and I know that it is a priority to get my health sorted before I can even think about racing again. I didn't want to pledge myself to the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team for 2013 and then not be able to give 100 per cent because the injury is a constant worry, so although this is a difficult decision it is the correct one.
"I will be going back to America for a bunch of tests and then we'll decide what the best course of action is. If that is a hip replacement or something similar, then that is what I am prepared to do to make sure I can get my health and fitness back. At the moment the injury is influencing everything I do in my home, personal and racing life, so I need to get it sorted out properly.
"I still have the desire and passion to race against the world's best riders but every time I have pumped myself up to go for it this season, the hip has quickly and painfully reminded me that I need to be careful – and that's no way to go racing.
“Everyone at the team has been very supportive this year, because they know what I've been through, so I want to send my thanks to them for all their encouragement and backing. I'd like to also thank all the racing fans and my personal sponsors - in particular Arai, Alpinestars and Monster who have been with me for so long - they have all been so positively behind me, I'm sorry that it's not worked out this year, but I really do hope to be back!”
Former MotoGP rider Hopkins has endured a torrid return to the international motorcycling stage in 2012, with a series of injuries stymieing the progress he made with an eye-catching turn in the British Superbike Championship last season.
Already starting the year having been forced to amputate a finger over the winter period – the legacy of an accident he suffered in 2011 -, Hopkins went on to miss the WSBK season opener altogether when he injured his hand in a testing fall.
Though he returned from round two, a high-speed fall at the Parabolica during round five at Monza has had lengthier repercussions than originally expected. With those niggles continuing at Magny-Cours, where the changes in direction are particularly severe, Hopkins decided not to race.
His place at FIXI Crescent Suzuki is widely tipped to be assumed by Sylvain Guintoli.