John Hopkins is to take a year out from racing to allow himself to recover fully from the multiple serious injuries that have plagued him throughout the 2012 season. In particular, a nagging hip injury first incurred at Monza has forced the American to take a break from racing, to allow his injuries to heal completely before attempting to race again.
It is a rare thing for motorcycle racers to make sensible decisions when it comes to recovering from injury, so for Hopkins to take the step to focus on his recovery is a major step. The American has suffered several serious injuries throughout his career, but his 2012 season has been particularly blighted by bad luck and mishap. His season got off to a difficult start, falling heavily at Phillip Island and breaking his hand at a pre-season test in Australia. He had already been having difficult with that hand, as he had injured it in a crash at Brno aboard Suzuki's MotoGP bike, an injury that never really healed properly. After having the finger he had broken amputated when it became infected after multiple surgeries, Hopkins appeared to be on his way back until the crash at Monza in which he broke a hip.
It is a risk for Hopkins to take a year out from racing, as securing a ride for 2014 will not be easy. However, his options at the moment are extremely limited, and with Suzuki set to make a return to MotoGP in 2014, he may yet get a second shot at the championship.
Below is the press release issued by Suzuki on Hopkins' decision to take a year away from racing:
HOPKINS RULES HIMSELF OUT FOR 2013
Team Suzuki Press Office - October 7.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer John Hopkins will be taking a sabbatical from professional motorcycle racing for 2013 as he prioritises a return to full fitness before considering the next steps in his career.
Hopkins has been struggling with injuries for the whole 2012 season and was forced to withdraw early from this weekend's World Superbike event in France due to a re-occurrence of his hip injury. He initially had to have a finger-top amputated in January, due to the after-effects of an injury from 2011, and then crashed heavily in a pre-season test in Australia and broke the same hand. He had to undergo six surgeries, including failed corrective surgeries, suffered a severe infection and eventual amputation of the finger in a span of four months. Then the same hand was badly broken only six weeks after the amputation, which resulted in the 29th surgery of his career - at only 29-years-old! Hopkins made a return to the Suzuki GSX-R at the Imola round, but then crashed heavily two events later in Monza, a massive high-side that resulted in him severely injuring his hip.
Hopkins again returned to competitive action after a one-race lay-off, but has battled against the damage to his hip for the remainder of the season. He has shown glimpses of the talent that led him to fourth place in the MotoGP World championship in 2007 and to the fantastic performances in BSB in 2011, but has been unable to produce the form he knows he needs to be as competitive on the world stage. Hopkins will return home to America to have further tests and repair evaluations on his injured hip and will then decide what his next course of action will be.
"I have really struggled with my hip since the crash at Monza and I know that it is a priority to get my health sorted before I can even think about racing again. I didn't want to pledge myself to the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team for 2013 and then not be able to give 100% because the injury is a constant worry, so although this is a difficult decision it is the correct one. I will be going back to America for a bunch of tests and then we'll decide what the best course of action is. If that is a hip replacement or something similar, then that is what I am prepared to do to make sure I can get my health and fitness back. At the moment the injury is influencing everything I do in my home, personal and racing life, so I need to get it sorted out properly. I still have the desire and passion to race against the world's best riders but every time I have pumped myself up to go for it this season, the hip has quickly and painfully reminded me that I need to be careful - and that's no way to go racing.
"Everyone at the team has been very supportive this year, because they know what I've been through, so I want to send my thanks to them for all their encouragement and backing. I'd like to also thank all the racing fans and my personal sponsors - in particular Arai, Alpinestars and Monster who have been with me for so long - they have all been so positively behind me, I'm sorry that it's not worked out this year, but I really do hope to be back!"
Paul Denning - Team Principal:
"We all saw what a formidable competitor John Hopkins is throughout 2011 - in BSB, the Silverstone WSBK wildcard race and on the Suzuki MotoGP machine. He's not a prolific crasher by any means - nearly every rider on the grid crashed in the Philip Island tests! - but John has just suffered ridiculous bad luck and has managed to create new injuries or severely aggravate old ones every time there has been an incident. It's an indication of his talent that John has been somewhere close to the best riders on lap times in WSBK even with the restrictions he's had to cope with.
"John needs to get himself fully healthy, allow his body to recover in the proper timescales and refresh his mind from the constant pain caused by these injuries. He's been racing at the top level since he was 16 years old, and it's time to give himself the chance to recover. If, following that process, John feels motivated and ready to return to racing he knows he only has to call and we'll be at the track straight away with a bike for him to test. On behalf of the whole Crescent Suzuki family - thank you John and we really hope that 2013 is the beginning of a great future."