John Hopkins rode a wounded Suzuki GSV-R to seventeenth place on tomorrow's Valencia Grand Prix grid, after battling gearbox problems throughout much of final qualifying.

"I'm quite disappointed, because we've had gearbox problems with my A bike all weekend," said John. "The bike would shift out of sync and the team was chasing the problem the entire session. It got to the point this afternoon that I switched to my spare bike, but that had issues that we weren't able to fix in the 20 minutes remaining. So we put a band-aid on the A bike, on a problem that needed stitches, and I just went out to do what I could."

Hopkins said a proper set-up is crucial on the demanding four-kilometre Valencia circuit.

"This track is one of the most tight and technical in the series," he explained. "Everything has to be precise here and unfortunately our bike was far from it today. We're hoping to solve the shifting issues tonight and be ready for the race tomorrow. I'm confident that if the bike is working that I can have a decent result here."

However, while Hopkins was focused on turning in a solid performance in the series finale, his thoughts were also on friends and family back home in Southern California, where devastating wildfires reached his hometown of Ramona this past week.

"People I know and went to school with lost their houses," he said. "My family was evacuated and the fire came within and mile of my place. It looks like the danger is over in the Ramona area, but I have a sister who lives in the high desert north of L.A. and they're still not totally out of danger. I nearly flew home so I could save what I could, but fortunately everything was brought under control. When something like that happens it really puts things into perspective."

Team-mate Kenny Roberts Jr. will start next to Hopkins in 18th, the former world champion 'messing around' with a new clutch.

"Suzuki has brought a new clutch here that seems to offer a bit more for us in terms of settings, and feels a bit more natural, so we're messing around with that... it's our biggest area at the moment," said Kenny. "I didn't put that much effort into just getting a qualifying time. My race times either have to be in the top ten, or they're not going to be. Overall I'm happy with the balance of the bike, and what it's doing on the circuit on race tyres and on long runs. Other than that, I can't really comment on how the day went. I'm just looking forward to the race."



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