Rizla Suzuki stand in John Hopkins made his first appearance in MotoGP for the first time since 2008 in the first practice session in Jerez for the second race of the season. Hopkins is the stand in rider for Ãlvaro Bautista as he recovers from his surgery.
Both sessions were used for Hopkins to re-aquainte himself with the MotoGP technology and the Bridgestone tyres and eventually finished the session 2s off first place man, Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner. Speaking after the session, Hopkins was upbeat, “Today was basically just about getting a feel for the bike and getting used to being back in the team.” he said.
“I wanted to get comfortable today and I didn't want to go out and do anything stupid – that's for sure! Since I was last in MotoGP they've changed to 45-minute sessions so that was a bit different, I would have liked a lot longer on the bike to get a better feeling, but that was not possible. In the two sessions we altered some of the electronics, but we haven't changed anything on the chassis because it felt great, there was no need to change the geometry because the base setting was so good.” he continued.
Being out of MotoGP for so long, Hopkins was being realistic. “Obviously it's where I expected to be position wise, it's a tall order from not riding a MotoGP bike for so long and only having ridden about 150 to 200 laps on a superbike in the last seven months, there was certainly a lot to learn on the first day. I am actually quite confident that we can improve a lot tomorrow after I've had the chance to sit back, relax and think about things. I followed some people at the end of the day and I realised there are a lot of places where I need to change my lines, but that's normal really.”
He finished, “I am just extremely pleased to be in the MotoGP paddock again and out there with the best riders in the world. There is a huge sense of gratitude from me because I never thought I'd be in this position so soon again in my career, so I want to say a big thanks to everyone at Rizla Suzuki for giving me this opportunity. I just want to be able to improve my position a bit more over the weekend and pay everyone back for giving me this chance.”