“Hopper” will replace Alvaro Bautista in the saddle of a Suzuki GSV-R at Jerez, following the Spaniard's high-speed crash in the practice session of the season opening Qatar GP. Bautista suffered a broken left femur in the incident and has since been subject to medical complications that have kept him in the hospital. Further surgery may be required in his case, which means a deadline for his return to MotoGP action is yet to be set.
When he'll return to the MotoGP field this weekend, Hopkins will do so fully healed from the wrist injury that almost put an end to his motorcycling career last season. In addition, the Californian will also make a return to Rizla Suzuki as an official rider, having spent no less than 5 years with the Japanese manufacturer's works team between 2003 and 2007.
“I wanted the opportunity to get back on a MotoGP bike, but not under these circumstances,” said Hopkins, who admitted he was shocked by Bautista's accident in Qatar. In order to replace him at Rizla, the American will put his commitments in the British Superbikes, with Samsung Crescent Racing, on hold.
“I'm under no illusions that this will be a tough weekend for me, as I've not been on a GP machine for a couple of years or ridden on the new control tires – except for the filming I did in Qatar a couple of weeks ago – so I realize this will be a step-up from what I have been riding recently.”
“The bikes have moved on in the last three years; when I rode the GSV-R at Losail it seemed so familiar and I immediately had a good feeling, but that was at filming pace, so it's going to be a lot different at race pace!”
“I will certainly be trying as hard as I can to get a good result and to make sure I don't disappoint anybody, myself included. I want to say a big 'thank you' to Suzuki and Rizla for giving me this opportunity, and I intend to pay back their faith with a good performance on my return to MotoGP.”