Hopkins To Get Another Wildcard At Sepang

John Hopkins continues to sidle up to a MotoGP ride for 2012. After replacing Alvaro Bautista at Jerez and then entering as a wildcard at Brno, the current BSB championship leader is set for another wildcard aboard the Rizla Suzuki, this time at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang. Hopkins will line up in Sepang alongside Bautista again, as he did at Brno, though he will be hoping for a better outcome, the American unable to race in the Czech Republic after crashing out during practice on the Saturday of the Brno meeting.

By the time Hopkins flies out to Malaysia, the British Superbike Championship - in which he is currently competing for the MotoGP team's Crescent Suzuki sister squad - should have concluded, with Hopkins the hot favorite for the title. Hopkins will then be free to start concentrating on 2012, and his hopes of returning to the MotoGP series full time. The American is still working closely with Crescent, and could either join MotoGP with Suzuki - if the Hamamatsu factory decide to stay in the series for next year - or possibly join Lucio Cecchinello's LCR Honda squad as the second rider to either Andrea Dovizioso or Randy de Puniet. Should Suzuki pull out of MotoGP and his other options fall through, Hopper looks most likely to switch to the World Superbike series, effectively riding for the same team, as Paul Denning's Rizla Suzuki team is also working on a WSBK entry as a backup, should MotoGP no longer be possible.

Below is the press release from the Rizla Suzuki team announcing Hopkins' wildcard at Sepang:

Hopkins and Rizla Suzuki back together at Sepang

Publish Date: Thursday, September 29, 2011

John Hopkins will re-join the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team as a wild-card rider in Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday 23rd October.

Hopkins will make a welcome return to the Rizla Suzuki squad for his second wild-card event of the season. His first event was at Brno where he unfortunately crashed and injured his right hand in a practice session. He had shown huge potential during the first day and had finished in 10th place on the time-sheets, but his injury on day two stopped the Anglo-American from showing what he might have achieved after a full weekend on-board the Suzuki GSV-R. Hopkins has already completed a MotoGP race this season, after he deputised for Álvaro Bautista at Jerez and scored a creditable 10th place at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Hopkins is currently leading the British Superbike championship onboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000 with the Samsung Crescent Racing team. The final event of the season will see him compete in a triple-header race weekend at Brands Hatch in England on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th October, as he attempts to secure the championship during his debut season.

John Hopkins:

"I am really pumped to get this chance to ride in a MotoGP race with the Rizla Suzuki team. I thought after Brno that I wouldn't get the opportunity again and was really disappointed that I missed out there due to a silly mistake, so to be heading to Sepang is fantastic. It is one of my favourite tracks and I know it well because we used to test there a lot. My main focus is on the British Championship at the moment, but as soon as that is over I will be in MotoGP mode and putting all my efforts into getting a good result at Sepang and showing that I can perform at the highest level. I really want to get back into MotoGP and this is a great chance to show what I can do.

"Again I need to thank everyone at Rizla Suzuki for giving me this opportunity and my Samsung Crescent team – I hope that by the time I get back on the MotoGP bike we will have been celebrating something really big at Brands Hatch!"

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

"We'd intended to give John at least one outing on the Rizla Suzuki Grand Prix bike this year and we're delighted that he'll join us in Malaysia to form a two–man team with Álvaro. Sepang is one of John's favourite tracks and also one that the GSV-R has performed well at in the past. What happened in Brno – with John's injury – and the way he has worked so hard to come back from it, and challenge for the British Superbike Championship, has only reaffirmed his commitment to success and getting back to the top level. Let's hope at Sepang we manage to line up at the start of the race with two Rizla Suzukis and that Álvaro and John can show what they and the team are all capable of producing."

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I really hope that Hopper can take to BSB Title and get a solid ride next year in MotoGP, he definitely deserves it. I'm really disappointed that Suzuki is keeping everyone in the dark about the future (Denning planning a WSBK contingency plan really shows that no one has a clue).

I'd like to see Randy de Puniet back on the LCR Honda (he really rode exceptionally well), put Dovi on the the Tech 3 and Hopper on the 2nd LCR Honda. While I'd like to see Suzuki stay in MotoGP, it just doesn't seem like they are ever going to put both feet in the water.

Shouldn't the MotoGP Silly Season be done and dusted by now? Oh wait, the whole season has been silly!

Has been great to see him rise back to the level of rider he was before all the injuries. He's done a great recovery to get fit and change his life and it is showing in BSB. Hope to see him in the Paddock next year @ Laguna as a racer instead of a spectator/commentator. Go Hopper!

I really hope Suzuki stay in GP. They have been showing glimmers of competitiveness lately.

As for Hopkins, he's never gotten me too excited but power to him if he can come back successfully. I remember him driving some hideously gaudy 4-wheeler around at Laguna last year. I thought it odd for someone who was, at the time, perilously close to being dumped out the bottom of the whole industry to be so flashy.

has been on fire this year despite the small but serious injuries he's been enduring to win the BSB title. The 1st for an American! Go JH! I hope he wins the title then heads to WSB with Crescent or back to Rizla in MotoGP.

And please stay in MotoGP Suzuki!! Even if Hopper ends up on another bike(hopefully something comes through for him one way or another), I don't see how Suzuki pulling out can be anything but bad for the series and the riders.

They are truly racing the second group riders at this point and have to be in the running for most improved team over the season. Paul got a lot of flack early in the year and I think he and the squad have shown real heart to ignore the heat and just push forward.

How ever you look at Hopkins, you'd have to agree he's paid his dues. Some say he squandered a good career but I look at the equipment he had and also know him as a hard worker and even harder partier from days past.

I understand he is more or less completing his payment because it was Suzuki who gave him the second chance. That said I think on a Yamaha or good Honda he could be a podium regular. On anything less I'm afraid he could be back to crashing ways because he wants to be up front at all cost. I'd rather see him up front in WSB on a good bike than crashing a lesser bike in MGP.

John also needs the right people around him , ala, Ben Spies, to keep things calm. Though he may have matured enough where that isn't needed. Either series would greatly benefit from Hopkins (hello Aprilia) and factory equipment.