Suzuki factory rider John Hopkins has admitted that he is both stunned and disappointed with suspension handed down by MotoGP officials after the Pacific Grand Prix last weekend, but has promised to learn from the incident and return a better rider.

"I made a mistake and am deeply sorry to the riders caught up in the accident," Hopkins reiterated, "I understand the importance of rider's safety, but I was stunned by the penalty I received.

"If I had a pattern of dangerous riding, I could understand the suspension, but my crash in Japan was a single mistake in judgment and I don't feel it warranted such a harsh punishment. The last thing I want is to put myself and my fellow riders in danger."

Hopkins went on to thank Suzuki in supporting him in filing an appeal on his behalf. He was also grateful for the support shown him by many of his fellow GP riders - including two that were directly affected by the first-turn accident.

"No-one felt worse about the accident than John," said his manager Douglas Gonda, "He showed a lot of courage by admitting his mistake immediately afterwards. It's unfortunate that officials rewarded his sincere apologies and honesty with a suspension."

Gonda added that Hopkins has himself been a victim of riding mistakes by other riders in the past and he hadn't expected those riders to be suspended.

"John knows everyone makes mistakes," Gonda said, "He's never had the reputation as a reckless rider and that's what's so tough. He's a clean rider who made a mistake. If John had pulled off the pass, he would have been praised for his bravery and skill."

Hopkins said he would now take the time off to prepare for the final two rounds of the 2003 campaign.

 

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