MotoGP: Hopkins on Rizla Suzuki at Jerez

Bautista Broken Leg

It was assumed that Rizla Suzuki would not be able to replace the injured Alvaro Bautista for the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship, and on Saturday the team confirmed this assumption. But Rizla will be present at round 2 in Jerez.

The possible Qatar replacements for Bautista, who broke his femur during FP3 on Friday, were British Superbike rider John Hopkins and Nobuatsu Aoki of Japan. Rizla Suzuki says due to the short notice, Hopkins is unable to get to Qatar in time for Sunday’s MotoGP race.

And as for Aoki, it is difficult to travel from Japan due to the recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated the Northeastern section of the country.

Rizla Suzuki says: "The Suzuki management also made tentative approaches to several Moto2 riders that have MotoGP experience, but none of these riders were available due to commitments to their respective teams for the first race of the season."

Rizla Suzuki confirmed that Hopkins will substitute for Bautista at Round 2 of the MotoGP season at Jerez in Spain as the Spaniard continues to recover.

Currently, Bautista, the sole rider on the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R, had a pin surgically inserted in his femur Saturday morning, and is awaiting clearance from doctors to travel. When he is clear, Bautista will return to Spain and begin therapy so he can return to MotoGP asap.

Paul Denning (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Team Manager) says: "The 2011 season hasn’t yet started and to have this huge disappointment already is very difficult to deal with. The winter tests have been consistent and competitive, especially bearing in mind Álvaro’s ‘race-day’ mentality and his love of fighting with the other guys rather than just riding – we always expect more from him in the races than in the tests, so everything was looking good.

"The reason for the crash was quite simple – pushing too hard in this section without enough temperature in the new tire – very similar to (Valentino) Rossi’s accident in Mugello last year. But the real reasons behind that – maybe feeling some pressure after losing track time on Thursday night with the arm pump, wanting to get back into the top group of lap-times as soon as possible – are more complex and unfortunately Álvaro paid a heavy price.

"This sport is very extreme, and the edge between success and disaster is very small. We are all disappointed, but he is the poor guy in hospital with a pin in his femur and a tough recuperation ahead. He has the strength of character and determination to come back from this, and on his behalf we’d like to thank everybody for their kind wishes and support, especially the doctors and staff of the Clinica Mobile who came to the hospital at 2.00am last night to check on the situation and lend their valuable advice and assistance.

"With regard to the Qatar GP, we really wanted to find a suitable rider and have the Rizla Suzuki on the grid tomorrow but the logistics for John or Nobu simply didn’t allow it. Also, the Moto2 teams who have riders with MotoGP experience, that we discussed the option with, were understandably reluctant to release a rider at the first round of the championship.

"Our reason to explore these options was simply to support the Championship, Rizla and all our partners, but ultimately it is a huge ask to expect any rider to jump for only qualifying and the race and expect too much – safety and common sense have to play their part as well and we fully respect those decisions.

"John isn’t happy with what happened to Álvaro, but I know he will do a solid job for us in Jerez, and we are hoping to arrange a shakedown test beforehand. Álvaro’s comeback timing isn’t clear, and John has BSB commitments that clash with Estoril and Le Mans, so we need to wait a while before any decisions for those races are made.

"Thanks to all Álvaro’s and the team’s well-wishers, we greatly appreciate it and we will do everything we can to recover quickly from this situation."