Hopkins Announces BSB Return in 2014 With Suzuki
2011 was a very close year for the British Superbike Championship, as America’s very own John “Hopper” Hopkins fought tooth and nail with the eventual champion, Swan Yamaha’s Tommy Hill, during the “Showdown” that season especially at the final race at Brands Hatch. He missed out by a mere 0.006 seconds to suffer heartbreak at the final hurdle, before deciding to make the move to the World Superbike Championship the following year.
It was a season for the new father-of-one to clearly forget, as injuries sustained at Monza during torrid conditions saw the 30-year-old require hip replacement surgery, which culminated in a year-long hiatus away from the sport to ensure a good quality of life and a chance to recover fully before his return to BSB with Tyco Suzuki for 2014.
Hopkins has had a lengthy association with Suzuki throughout his career, having ridden with the manufacturer in MotoGP, where he placed 4th in the 2007 season in the rider’s standings, and even returned to the top-flight category in place of an injured Alvaro Bautista at the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix alongside his BSB commitments.
A fan favourite amongst many of the loyal BSB supporters, who enjoyed the action he provided in adding that “American” flair to a series that has had its fair share of international talent from the four corners of the globe. He says that he is “feeling good” ahead of the return to the UK, for what is very much a case of unfinished business, having lost out in 2011 in such dramatic fashion
“I feel better than I have done in a lot of years and I’m really excited to be getting back out on track, especially on the Suzuki GSX-R1000,” said “Hopper,” who has a new energy coming back into a championship he enjoys. “I really feel like I’ve got a point to prove in the British Superbike Championship, so as I say I can’t wait to get out there on track and do some riding.”
It seems that the five-time race winner, who also secured a further eleven podiums, is looking set to hit the front head-on, and challenge the current field, as the second rider for the outfit, led by Team Manager Philip Neill, has yet to be announced. This shows that title contender Josh Brookes, who was with the team last year may be moving on to another outfit for 2014.
Neill himself, said that Hopkins was the rider they wanted to secure for 2014, and was proud that they have a well-established Suzuki family member on board with the hope of future success, when the season gets underway early next year: “BSB is such a high profile championship and produces some of the best racing in the world, and I hope the return of John Hopkins is positive news for all the BSB fans. From a Tyco Suzuki point of view, we simply can't wait to start the new season."
Refreshed and recharged, it was only a matter of time before we would have found out what "Hopper" had been thinking about for the coming season and beyond. The fans will flock to the track to see this charismatic Californian back to entertain and hopefully take that step further to see him take the title that so many had been backing him to do so just over a couple of seasons ago. Now he has a second bite at the cherry, and all the motivation he needs to go for it.