American Hopkins: MotoGP, WSBK & BSB
Suzuki Motorcycle Racing
John Hopkins’ main focus for the 2011 motorcycle racing season was British Superbike after the American landed a ride with the Samsung Crescent Suzuki team.
But Hopkins was then called on at Jerez to ride as a wildcard entry for the injured Alvaro Bautista on the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R. During that round (2), John "Hopper" Hopkins, who competed in MotoGP from 2003-2007, went on to finish 10th at Jerez.
But there was one more series he would also compete in as a wildcard – World Superbike. Last weekend Hopkins competed as a Wildcard in World Superbike, riding with his Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider Jon Kirkham aboard the GSX-R1000.
And now Hopkins was called on again for MotoGP, but this time he won’t be substituting for Bautista, he’ll be joining him as a teammate at Brno Aug. 14.
Now he joins a group of elite riders that competed in three championship in the same season, but what’s more amazing is he’ll do these series back-to-back, becoming the only rider to do so in the 800cc MotoGP era.
However, Suzuki says he is joined in the record-books by former Crescent Suzuki racer Yukio Kagayama from Japan as a rider that has also competed in BSB, WSB and MotoGP in one season and incredibly also in three-consecutive weekends: Kagayama was a member of the successful Crescent Suzuki BSB team in 2003 when he made an astonishing run of nine races in nine weekends, including racing in a fourth Championship event when he competed in the Suzuka eight-hour in Japan.
Kagayama’s amazing run started at Silverstone in a WSB event before taking in further BSB rounds, another round of WSB at Brands Hatch; and two MotoGP events for Suzuki at Assen in the Netherlands and Donington Park. Coincidentally, he was Hopkins’ teammate in both of those Grands Prix outings, Suzuki says.
Kagayama also completed the hat-trick of three Championships in one season previous to 2003 when he starred in the Japanese National Championship, WSB and then the Motegi round of the 500cc Grand Prix Championship alongside reigning Suzuki World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr. in 2001.
Suzuki says Hopkins’ return to the World Stage completes an incredible comeback by the 28-year-old from Ramona in California: Just 12-months ago, he was having corrective surgery to his wrist to save his career after several specialists had said he’d never race again. The operations and rehabilitation were successful and, alongside a personal drive to change his lifestyle and dedicate himself to rebuilding his career, Hopkins competed in the AMA Superbike Championship towards the end of 2010, even making an appearance on the podium.
He was offered the opportunity to re-establish himself in the UK with the Samsung Crescent Racing squad – a team owned by current Rizla Suzuki GP Team manager Paul Denning – and eagerly took the chance. He is currently in second place in the BSB standings and his dedication and loyalty to Suzuki through this season has now seen him rewarded with a MotoGP ride at Brno, Suzuki says.
John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000) says: "This has been an incredible run of races for me and it is a pretty-big deal to do three different Championships in three weekends! I know Yukio did it in 2003 and carried on with an amazing run of nine consecutive races.
"I just have no idea how he managed that! It was good to get back to World racing last weekend at Silverstone and we did ok there, but I think we deserved a little-better after qualifying on Pole. We’d know how to get a better race-distance result if we went back now. The weekend was a boost for all of us as it showed we are good enough to be there.
"This week at Brands will be busy as we have three races over two days, so there will be little time for rest and relaxation, but the BSB title is my main goal this weekend so I am totally focused on that. Then we go to Brno for the MotoGP race; it’s a really big pleasure to be given this opportunity by Suzuki and I am going there much better-prepared than when I rode as a replacement at the start of the season.
"It’s an amazing thing to be in this position when I consider where I was at with my physical condition just a year ago and I’m so grateful to everyone that has helped me to get back to a decent level. I just hope that from these three race weekends I can produce some quality as well as quantity to repay the faith shown in me. One thing I can guarantee is 100-percent commitment!"