With his name at the top of most team managers' wish list, Hopkins turned down a number of lucrative offers - not least from Suzuki - to sign with Kawasaki. Securing the 24-year-old Anglo-American's services was the culmination of weeks of negotiations between Hopkins' management company and Kawasaki's competition manager, Michael Bartholemy.

"We have had our eye on John for some time, so we didn't hesitate to open negotiations with him as soon as we heard he was considering his options for the next two years," explained Bartholemy. "The discussions haven't been easy, as John is probably the most sought after rider in the paddock at the moment, but we are happy that, of all the options open to him for next year, he finally chose to join Kawasaki."

Hopkins, from San Diego in California, made his grand prix debut in 2002 for the WCM Red Bull team, for whom he raced a 500cc two-stroke against the new breed of four-stroke MotoGP machines.

After impressing during his rookie year, for the following season Hopkins secured a seat alongside former 500cc world champion, Kenny Roberts, in the factory Suzuki MotoGP squad, for whom he is now in his fifth season.

While the #21 has undoubtedly made progress during his time in the premier-series, taking his first pole position last season and first podium earlier this season, Hopper - like Kawasaki - is yet to win a MotoGP race.

"John has both the ability and the determination necessary to win races but, before this year, he maybe hasn't had the machinery necessary. I'm confident that the combination of John Hopkins and Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR will be a potent one next year, and we're looking forward to seeing John realise both his and Kawasaki's full potential," continued Bartholemy.

"For me, John's decision to join Kawasaki for the next two years is a clear indication of just how far we've come with the new team infrastructure and the 800cc Ninja ZX-RR. Just twelve months ago we wouldn't have been in a position to attract a rider of John's calibre, but the situation is very different now. We have proved that Kawasaki has a professional set-up and a competitive package in the Ninja ZX-RR."

Kawasaki expect to announce their full 2008 rider line-up shortly after next weekend's U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.

There was no comment as to whether Monster Energy - a personal sponsor of Hopkins and also several Kawasaki race teams in the USA - will back Kawasaki's MotoGP team next season.