Rizla Suzuki have announced that they will not be running in Qatar this weekend after being unable to find a replacement for Ãlvaro Bautista who broke his leg in a high speed accident in Friday practice.
The team were all out of options after John Hopkins traveled back to America and was unable to return to Qatar in time, and Nobuatsu Aoki is currently in Japan where travel is very difficult due the earthquake and tsunami tragedy that struck his country last week.
The team also made some approaches to Moto2 riders with MotoGP experience, but it was a tentative task as they are all committed to the first race of the season with their teams.
John Hopkins will take the ride in Jerez, but cannot take the ride for the whole period that Bautista is recovering due to his British Superbike commitments.
In a press release, team boss Paul Denning said “The 2011 season hasn't yet started and to have this huge disappointment already is very difficult to deal with. The winter tests have been consistent and competitive, especially bearing in mind Ãlvaro's 'race-day' mentality and his love of fighting with the other guys rather than just riding – we always expect more from him in the races than in the tests, so everything was looking good. The reason for the crash was quite simple – pushing too hard in this section without enough temperature in the new tyre – very similar to Rossi's accident in Mugello last year.”
“But the real reasons behind that – maybe feeling some pressure after losing track time on Thursday night with the arm pump, wanting to get back into the top group of lap-times as soon as possible – are more complex and unfortunately Ãlvaro paid a heavy price. This sport is very extreme, and the edge between success and disaster is very small. We are all disappointed, but he is the poor guy in hospital with a pin in his femur and a tough recuperation ahead. He has the strength of character and determination to come back from this, and on his behalf we'd like to thank everybody for their kind wishes and support, especially the doctors and staff of the Clinica Mobile who came to the hospital at 2.00am last night to check on the situation and lend their valuable advice and assistance.
On this weekend, Denning said “With regard to the Qatar GP, we really wanted to find a suitable rider and have the Rizla Suzuki on the grid tomorrow but the logistics for John or Nobu simply didn't allow it. Also, the Moto2 teams who have riders with MotoGP experience, that we discussed the option with, were understandably reluctant to release a rider at the first round of the championship. Our reason to explore these options was simply to support the Championship, Rizla and all our partners, but ultimately it is a huge ask to expect any rider to jump for only qualifying and the race and expect too much – safety and common sense have to play their part as well and we fully respect those decisions.”
On Hopkins, Denning commented “John isn't happy with what happened to Ãlvaro, but I know he will do a solid job for us in Jerez, and we are hoping to arrange a shakedown test beforehand. Ãlvaro's comeback timing isn't clear, and John has BSB commitments that clash with Estoril and Le Mans, so we need to wait a while before any decisions for those races are made.”
He concluded “Thanks to all Ãlvaro's and the team's well-wishers, we greatly appreciate it and we will do everything we can to recover quickly from this situation.”