John Hopkins Gets Wildcard Appearance At Brno

John Hopkins continues to sidle up on a full-time MotoGP return, this time with a wildcard ride at Brno in mid-August. The Rizla Suzuki team today announced that the American will join Alvaro Bautista for the Czech Grand Prix at Brno, aboard a second Suzuki GSV-R. Hopkins previously replaced Bautista at Jerez, after the Spaniard broke his femur in the opening round of the series, the American finishing in 10th. There has been talk that Hopkins would be racing as a wildcard for some months now, but the details had to be finalized. That has now happened, and Hopkins, who is second in the British Superbike Championship, will make his first appearance at Brno.

Below is the text of the press release announcing Hopper's wildcard:

Hopkins and Rizla Suzuki re-unite

Publish Date: Thursday, July 21, 2011

John Hopkins will race for the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team in the Czech Republic round of the MotoGP World Championship at Brno on Sunday 14th August.

Hopkins will make his second appearance of the season for the Rizla Suzuki squad, this time as a team-mate for Álvaro Bautista rather than as a replacement. Hopkins deputised for the injured Spaniard at Jerez and scored a creditable 10th place at the Spanish Grand Prix, due to Bautista's inability to ride following the broken femur he suffered in Qatar.

The Anglo-American racer last rode at Brno for Rizla Suzuki in 2007 and recorded his best-ever finish in a MotoGP race by bringing his Suzuki GSV-R home in second place - a result that went some way to seeing Hopkins secure fourth place in the championship that season.

Hopkins is currently in second place in the British Superbike championship onboard a Suzuki GSX-R1000 with the Samsung Crescent Racing team. His next event is at Silverstone in England, when he gets a taste of World Championship motorcycle racing as he competes in the WSB series on Sunday 29th July.

John Hopkins:

"It's a real thrill to get the opportunity to ride at Brno and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm very pleased that we have been able to achieve it because it is something we have been working on for a long time. To be honest it couldn't be at a better track for me either, I had my best result in my MotoGP career at that track and I'm really pumped that I am going there again. As far as the Suzuki goes, I think it's a great bike and the package is a lot better than when I last rode it in 2007. I think that in comparison to what I was able to do in Jerez, I believe I will be able to perform a lot better because back then I hadn't been on a bike in a competitive environment for six or seven months. I got thrown in at the deep-end in Spain, but this time I will have a lot more race-craft. It's also a huge benefit for me to be riding alongside Álvaro instead of riding in-place of him, so that will be really good, not just for me but for the whole team. With the two of us we can help develop the bike and share the extra data to get the best out of the GSV-R. It will be better to be riding with him in the team instead of replacing him, because nobody likes to see a rider injured and having more bikes on the grid is always better for everyone. I really want to thank everyone at Suzuki for giving me this chance and my Samsung Crescent team back in England for letting me take the opportunity to go back to MotoGP – even if it is just for one ride at the moment!"

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

"Everyone at Rizla Suzuki is looking forward to welcoming John back into the fold for the Brno Grand Prix. It is a track that the GSV-R has gone well at in the past, a track that John really enjoys and we'll be doing everything we can to give him a decent platform to get a good result. We also hope that John's MotoGP experience and data during the weekend will help us find a better solution for both riders and increase our performance overall."

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I've actually been watching the 2007 MotoGP season over again and the only thing I keep thinking is why isn't this guy racing now?
As for outpacing Alvaro I don't know, maybe. Alvaro has been looking good lately though, whatever happens I think this only helps Suzuki and hopefully they both get good results and Suzuki does some serious thinking about running them both next year...

What is wrong with the Suzuki?

Is it just lack of power? There is the "only works when it's hot" theory, but then at least one hot weather track is Laguna, where power doesn't matter so much. But then Malaysia...

There's nothing fundamentally different to the Honda in its chassis layout, it has the same electronics as everyone else along with brakes and suspension. They just don't have the right programmers?

Alvaro had just recently made a comment about how the bike really isn't that bad its just that everyone else is developing much quicker and they're constantly playing catchup. Paul Denning was also saying how just this past weekend in Germany that Alvaro was pushing the limits a lot more and was able to get more out of the bike and thus a better result. I think we're going to see the Suzukis doing a little bit better coming up...

...I am very proud of--and happy for--Hopper concerning his recovery from substance abuse. Michael Scott did a superb interview with him in GPWeek a while back, and Hopper told of his battles with addiction, pain, and depression. I'm glad to hear that those things are no longer ruining his racing and, indeed, his life. He is a blessed man to be rid of those problems, and also to be getting another chance with Suzuki. He has made some very poor decisions, but he's got another shot, and I wish him only the best.

One shouldn´t forget that "Hopper" had some very serious injuries. The last one nearly ended his career as one hand/wrist (?) was extensively damaged and had to be reconstructed by applying a very specific (surgical) method. In general John´s problems were integral (body <=> mind) and didn´t only base on his (vulnerable?) psyche. Great guy/racer.