After a month of intense speculation about the fate of John Hopkins, and whether the American would be joining the brand new FB Corse MotoGP project or heading back to the US to ride for John Ulrich's Team Hammer in the AMA Pro series, Hopkins' destiny is finally sealed. Last night, the newly christened Team M4 Monster Suzuki issued a press release announcing that John Hopkins will be riding for the team in the American Superbike class in the US in 2010.
This announcement confirms the news reported by MotoMatters.com earlier this week that Hopkins would be going back to the US. Hopper himself had told the crowd at the Anaheim Supercross meeting that he was intending to race in the AMA. This was then reported on MotoMatters.com, to the apparent annoyance of John Hopkins' mother Linda, who posted a waspish rebuttal over on Hopper's own website.
As predicted, the team will be backed by Hopkins' personal sponsor Monster Energy. Hopkins will race alongside the promising Columbian Martin Cardenas aboard Suzuki GSX-R 1000s, and with a solid team structure and two talented riders, Team M4 Monster Suzuki will pose a serious title threat. After a disastrous 2008 aboard the Kawasaki, followed by a difficult and partial season on the Stiggy Honda in World Superbikes, Hopkins will be relieved to be able to go racing with a strong team on competitive material.
The full text of the press release is below:
HOPKINS JOINS CARDENAS FOR TEAM M4 MONSTER SUZUKI
John Hopkins has signed to race the 2010 AMA Pro season with Team Hammer, which will race as M4 Monster Suzuki. He will race American Superbike in 2010, joining the team's Daytona SportBike ace Martin Cardenas in a two-rider assault for the championship-winning team that first began racing in 1980.
Both Hopkins and Cardenas have Grand Prix experience and the M4 Monster Suzuki team looks to present its most aggressive challenge yet in AMA Pro Racing. While both racers already have garnered a remarkable amount of experience, they're just now entering the prime of their careers. Hopkins is 26 years old while Cardenas is 27.
Hopkins, born in California to British parents, raced for Team Hammer as a teenager and won the 2000 AMA 750 Supersport and 2001 AMA Formula Xtreme titles before joining the MotoGP circus with the WCM Yamaha team. In his first season in Grand Prix, "Hopper" impressed while racing a two-stroke against primarily four-stroke competition and his rise was chronicled in the movie Faster. The next season, John was signed to the factory Suzuki team at 19 years old. Hopkins raced five years with Suzuki before joining the factory Kawasaki MotoGP team for 2008. While in Grand Prix, John won a pole position, finished on the podium four times, twice earned fastest laps honors, and took fourth place in the 2007 MotoGP championship, proving himself to be one of the top riders in the globe's elite racing series during his seven seasons there.
Hopkins joined Stiggy Racing Honda to race World Superbike last year and flashed his enormous potential on occasion during an injury-hindered season.
"I'm really excited to be working with the team and (team owner) John Ulrich again. We had a lot of success when I raced with them at the beginning of my career and I'd like to thank Monster, M4 and all the rest of our sponsors for making it happen. I'm also happy to be back on a Suzuki motorcycle again. I'm feeling healthier than I have in a long time. I think my fitness level is up there with the way it was in 2007 and I'm looking forward to getting out there on the track and enjoying racing again," said Hopkins. "I have the chance to ride the bike a little bit today at a Fastrack Riders track day at Fontana and I'm really pleased. It is just a shakedown test but the bike feels really comfortable to me. My goals are to learn the bike and the tracks, have a healthy season, perform to the best of my ability, and see where that leaves us in the championship. I'm really happy to have a ride with a great team and be healthy again and I'm looking forward to having a good season."
"I have full confidence in John Hopkins and his abilities," said Team Hammer owner John Ulrich. "I really enjoyed working with John before, and I'm really looking forward to working with him again. There is no doubt in my mind that he knows how to ride a motorcycle, and now at age 26 he's got seven years of Grand Prix experience under his belt. With seven AMA Pro Racing Daytona SportBike race wins in 2009, Martin Cardenas has already demonstrated the potential created by putting a great rider with Grand Prix experience on a competitive motorcycle built by the Team Hammer crew in Alabama, and we're looking forward to creating the same situation with John. I am proud to welcome John Hopkins and his family back to the AMA Pro paddock and I am very excited to be fielding John in the AMA Pro Racing National Guard American Superbike Championship. With the combination of Martin Cardenas and John Hopkins on M4 Suzukis, we have an exciting opportunity to make great things happen in 2010."