Rizla Suzuki‘s stand in rider John Hopkins rounded off his weekend in Jerez with a strong ride to 10th in Sunday’s race. After a good start from 14th place on the grid, the British Superbike rider quickly became involved in a 7 rider battle for 8th place and was constantly trading positions.
With only a few laps remaining, tyre issues caused Hopkins to lose some hard fought positions and eventually crossed the line in 10th, after keeping the bike upright on well used wet tyres.
Speaking after the race, Hopkins said, “Well, I finished where I wanted to. I certainly wanted to get into the top-10! That was the goal for the whole weekend, but I did wonder if it was going to be a reality when I started on Friday. We pushed right from the start of practice and chipped away little-by-little to bring the lap-time down and just went about the job as professionally as possible. My main target at the start of the race was to try and jump up as many places as possible and get up into the group, because I knew that if I was in there I would be able to follow some guys and do the lap-times.”
He continued, “We made up some positions early on, although I dropped back a few places and made a few mistakes – including a huge moment in turn three when I lost the rear and hit the paint – the bike was 90º sideways underneath me, when I should have been going forward! I was able to keep it upright and hang on to a group that included a couple of Ducati's and some other guys in a battle for eighth. Then suddenly the tyres dropped off a lot, but this was my first time in the wet for a while on a MotoGP bike and I'd never used the Bridgestone wets, so we didn't have the electronics set completely in the right way and I chewed up the tyre way too much at the beginning of the race. I dropped off the pace quite dramatically for the last part of the race and I saw many riders crashing, so I knew I was close to the top-10, but my main aim was to finish and bring the bike home.”
Hopkins will now return to England to compete in the British Superbike championship, with a replacement for Ãlvaro Bautista not yet announced. Hopkins commented, “It has been an amazing weekend and I'm so grateful – again – to Rizla Suzuki for giving me this great opportunity, it's been great and I've really enjoyed it, just to see everybody in the GP paddock has been awesome! Hopefully in the future you'll see more of me here, but for now I need to concentrate on the BSB championship and we'll see what happens. I once again want to say how thankful I am for this chance and it was great to see my 'away-from-home family' in the Suzuki garage again!”