Saturday, the day before the start of the official Qatar MotoGP test, saw John Hopkins complete his first GSV-R laps since finishing third in the 2007 Valencia Grand Prix.

Hopkins finished fourth in the MotoGP World Championship that season, the highest placing by a Suzuki rider in the four-stroke era, and scored four podiums - but elected to make what turned out to be an ill-fated switch to Kawasaki for 2008.

After several seasons of Superbike racing, interrupted by injuries, Hopper has now signed to ride for Crescent Suzuki in the British Superbike Championship.

Crescent owner Paul Denning is also team manager of the Suzuki MotoGP team, a link which surely helped Hopkins get back on a GSV-R and assist with some 'PR filming' in Qatar.

According to Suzuki, which didn't release any lap times, Hopkins "looked right back at home on the latest version of the Suzuki GSV-R - despite only lapping at exhibition speeds".

"It's really good to have been given this opportunity and it's just been great to be here!" said Hopkins. "It feels really cool to be back out and riding on a GP bike, even if it was just for filming it was still a lot of fun.

"I did start to get a decent feeling on the bike and it still feels awesome, even with the minimal amount of laps we were doing."

With Suzuki cutting back to just a single MotoGP rider, Alvaro Bautista, Hopkins is to serve as a reserve this year should the Spaniard be unable to race.

And in addition to BSB, Hopkins will make a wild-card appearance in the Silverstone World Superbike round, but there are currently no publicised plans to give him a MotoGP wild-card.

However Hopkins hopes that, if he delivers in BSB, he will get the chance to race the GSV-R.

"It would be great to race the Suzuki in a MotoGP event, so hopefully I can have some success in BSB and get the chance to go for it in a grand prix again sometime in the future," he said.

"My ultimate goal is to get back to MotoGP, but for now my full focus is on doing the best I can in the British Superbike championship with the Samsung Crescent team.

"I've really enjoyed today and I am very grateful to Rizla Suzuki for giving me the chance to be here - and thanks to ?lvaro for letting me use one of his Rizla bikes."



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