John Hopkins has proved he should be back in MotoGP full time and Suzuki has turned the GSV-R into a user-friendly motorcycle.

That was the verdict of Rizla Suzuki team manager Paul Denning after Hopkins qualified just over half-a-second from sixth placed Andr?a Dovizioso, during his first MotoGP qualifying session since 2008 at Jerez on Saturday.

Hopkins, a Suzuki MotoGP rider from 2003-2007, when he moved to Kawasaki, has been drafted back into the team in place of the injured Alvaro Bautista.

Prior to Friday practice Hopkins had only completed some brief filming laps on the 2011 version of the GSV-R, but he has improved with each and every session and was only 1.5sec behind pole man Casey Stoner in qualifying.

With MotoGP so close, Hopkins will still start back in 14th, but he beat three full-time riders.

"These two days have demonstrated two things. One that John Hopkins still deserves to be riding at the top level of the sport, and secondly, that Suzuki has done a great job to develop the GSV-R into a package that - without any adjustments at all - has allowed John to qualify the bike so competitively," said Denning.

"Over two years away from riding a MotoGP machine - and the amount of braking force and mechanical grip that they have compared to production bikes - means that John's timing is inevitably a bit off and also that whilst he's very fit, there is a difference between normal fitness and MotoGP racing fitness.

"The 27-laps tomorrow will be tough, but irrespective of what happens in the race itself, John has done a fantastic job so far and we couldn't have wished for a better stand-in for Alvaro."

Hopkins has signed to ride for Denning's Crescent Suzuki team in BSB this year and hadn't dreamed he'd be back in MotoGP so soon.

Indeed, the American - who finished fourth in the 2007 world championship - admitted he was a little over-excited during qualifying, but now has his sights set on a dream top ten in the race.

"I don't really know where to start! It's been a good day and we've taken everything step-by-step to get where we are. It was good to sleep on the track last night - not literally - but to sleep with it in my mind!" he began. "This morning we went quite a bit quicker, which we expected to do and again we haven't made any geometry changes whatsoever to the bike.

"All we've changed has been the electronics and the riding position a little bit, but that has just been some fine tuning. It's amazing the technology that MotoGP bikes have these days - it is just insane! There are so many changes that can be made for each and every rider, you can easily get lost - that's why I'm lucky to have such a good base setting to start with. We were able to put in some good times and consistent laps and I'm getting more comfortable with myself and my riding lines.

"For qualifying I was way too excited at the start and I was making too many mistakes, rushing into the corners and running wide all over the place - I was just a little bit too happy with myself out there! I had to come in and calm it down and breathe a bit before I went back out again.

"I managed to get a tow from a couple of riders because I need to get as much help as I can this weekend. At the end quite a few people crashed all around me and I was looking for someone to follow to help me learn the lines again. I got behind Dovizioso and Stoner on my last softer tyre and although I made quite a few mistakes on my fastest lap, I still ended up going over two seconds quicker than I did yesterday.

"I am very pleased and it feels so awesome to be back out there, especially in front of the Jerez crowd. I'm having so much fun on the motorcycle and really excited about riding, I can't wait to get out there tomorrow and try and get the best result possible.

"Obviously the goal is to try and get into the top 10 and if we can that would be great. Most importantly though I want to go out and enjoy myself and put on a good show for the fans and the sponsors and especially for the team for all the faith that they've put in to me - I hope I can reward them with a good result."



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