John Hopkins has described his chances of being fit for the World Superbike season opener in Australia as “very slim” after breaking a bone in his right hand in testing. The Crescent Fixi Suzuki rider suffered a high-side on his GSX-R1000 on the first day of testing at Phillip Island, the venue for the opening round of the 2012 season in 12 days' time, and has flown back to the USA to see a surgeon.
“This feels so devastating because I was feeling really comfortable on the bike right from the start”, commented Hopkins. “I was running the 2011-spec bike with just small modifications to the engine and the new Yoshimura exhaust and hadn’t yet got on the full 2012 bike. But I felt that the GSX-R had already been improved in the areas it needed to be.”
Hopkins refused to use the damp track as an excuse for the crash, feeling he may have pushed too hard on a worn set of tyres.
“The track conditions were not the best and we started the day a bit late because there were some damp patches around from the overnight rain. Having said that, it wasn’t the damp that caused the crash. I was on a used tyre and probably on the last lap before pulling in. I exited turn one and might have been just a little bit too hot for the condition of the tyre going into turn two, when suddenly the rear came round even before I got on the brakes. I was spat off and unfortunately came down on my right hand – the same one that is missing a bit of finger. The X-rays show that I have fractured a bone in the base of the hand near what’s left of my fourth finger.
“I will fly home tomorrow and see my hand surgeon, Doctor Chao, and we’ll decide what has to be done. I would say that my chances of racing at Phillip Island next week are very slim, but the important thing is to get the hand sorted correctly and be completely right before I race. It may be better to miss Phillip Island and then use the six weeks or so before Imola to get back to 100% – we’ll see. I want to say thanks to the Crescent Fixi team for all its efforts and sorry to Suzuki and all the team’s sponsors – we’ll be back and fighting for the podium soon”
Teammate Leon Camier was 12th fastest on the opening day, 1.5s down on pacesetter Tom Sykes, but Team Manager Jack Valentine's mood was determined by the misfortune of Hopkins.
“It is a bit more than unfortunate what happened to John today. We had a late start because of the overnight rain and a bit of sea mist this morning, but everything was going fine. John looked good on the bike. His lap times were right up there with the others and there were no problems with his finger. He was unlucky to high-side, but more unlucky to come down on his right hand. We’ll wait to see how he gets on in the USA tomorrow and although there is a possibility that he might race, I think we’d all rather that he got his injury sorted out properly and then return when he’s full and ready. “
“The positives are that both riders have already gelled really well with the bike. Hopper looked good right from the start and Leon got comfortable straight away. Leon ended the day really happy with the bike and he’ll carry on the work we’ve got to do and keep improving tomorrow.”