John Hopkins is to take a year out from racing to allow himself to recover fully from the multiple serious injuries that have plagued him throughout the 2012 season. In particular, a nagging hip injury first incurred at Monza has forced the American to take a break from racing, to allow his injuries to heal completely before attempting to race again.
It is a rare thing for motorcycle racers to make sensible decisions when it comes to recovering from injury, so for Hopkins to take the step to focus on his recovery is a major step. The American has suffered several serious injuries throughout his career, but his 2012 season has been particularly blighted by bad luck and mishap. His season got off to a difficult start, falling heavily at Phillip Island and breaking his hand at a pre-season test in Australia. He had already been having difficult with that hand, as he had injured it in a crash at Brno aboard Suzuki's MotoGP bike, an injury that never really healed properly. After having the finger he had broken amputated when it became infected after multiple surgeries, Hopkins appeared to be on his way back until the crash at Monza in which he broke a hip.
John Hopkins is to return to racing at the Miller Motorsports Park round of World Superbikes on May 28th. After crashing heavily in the disastrous conditions at Monza two weeks' ago, where he broke a bone in his foot and damaged his hip, Hopkins has been pronounced fit enough to attempt to race at Miller, the home round for the Californian.
Hopkins had originally hoped to return at Last weekend's Donington WSBK round, but the injuries the American suffered were simply too severe to allow him to race: Hopper's hip injury restricted movement too much for him to ride a bike competitively. Hopkins flew home to California, where he was seen by specialists to assess the damage. Fortunately, no long-term damage to the hip was found, and Hopkins was given the all clear to race in Utah, though he will have to undergo a series of painkilling injections to be able to participate.
At Donington Park, Hopkins was replaced by Peter Hickman, who until then had been competing in the BSB championship with MSS Kawasaki. But Hickman's acceptance of the ride was not taken well by his BSB team, and Hickman was sacked on the Monday after the Donington Park round of WSBK.
Below is the press release announcing Hopkins' return from the FIXI Crescent Suzuki squad:
HOPKINS RETURNS AT MILLER PARK WSB
Jack Valentine, team manager at Crescent FIXI Suzuki, has announced that a last-minute replacement for John Hopkins has been found. After struggling to find anyone from the BSB series that was able to fill the seat, Peter Hickman, MSS Bathams Kawasaki rider in the British series, was revealed as Hopkins's replacement the night before the riders first took to the track for the weekend.
Crescent Fixi Suzuki have announced that John Hopkins is to miss the Donington round of World Superbikes, after breaking his foot in a crash at Monza. A replacement rider is due to be announced shortly. Below is the press release from the Crescent Fixi Suzuki team:
John Hopkins has been declared fit for the Imola round of World Superbikes. The American will make his race debut on the Crescent Fixi Suzuki in the series, after breaking a hand in the final preseason test at Phillip Island, the week before the opening round. After breaking his hand, Hopkins returned to the US for surgery, and after a period of intense rehab on his hand, he was finally declared fit last Wednesday, and will take part in the race at Imola this weekend.
The Crescent Suzuki press release follows below:
John Hopkins has been officially ruled out of the first race of the 2012 World Superbike season at Phillip Island. The American broke a bone in his right hand after crashing on the first day of the private WSBK test at Phillip Island last week. Hopkins highsided his Suzuki GSX-R 1000 at Turn 2, landing badly and fracturing his hand.
Hopkins flew home to California after the crash, to be treated by the specialist who treated the complications he suffered on a finger he broke at Brno in August of last year. The American is currently waiting for the swelling to go down on his hand, before surgery to repair the fractured bone.
Though Hopkins will miss the first race of the season in Australia, he has nearly six weeks to recover until the next race at Imola in Italy. The Crescent Fixi Suzuki WSBK team expect him to be fit in time for that round.
The official Suzuki press release appears below:
HOPKINS PLANS RETURN AT IMOLA WSB
Team Suzuki Press Office - February 17.
John Hopkins has been confirmed a non-starter for next week's opening round of the World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island in Australia but will be back on track at Imola next month.
Press releases from the World Superbike teams after the private test at Phillip Island:
John Hopkins' run of bad luck with hand injuries continues. The American has suffered yet another broken bone in his right hand, after crashing during a private World Superbike test at Phillip Island, ahead of the first round of the series in just under two weeks' time. Hopkins highsided at Turn 2, landing on his right hand, and fracturing a bone at the base of the hand.
The crash was doubly unfortunate for Hopkins. The American landed on his right hand, the hand which he had only recently had surgery on to remove the damaged ring finger. That injury had been sustained in 2011, the American crashing during practice for a wildcard appearance at the Brno round of MotoGP. Hopkins then had to cancel a second wildcard appearance at Sepang after the strain of riding a MotoGP bike separated the bone which had already partially healed, and eventually led the American to have the finger amputated.
Hopkins has now flown home to California to have his hand examined by his specialist Dr Chao. The American is in doubt for the first round of World Superbikes at Phillip Island, but with over six weeks until the second round of WSBK at Imola in Italy, he should not be forced to miss any other races.
Below is the press release from Suzuki announcing Hopkins' injury:
John Hopkins has had the top half of the ring finger on his right hand amputated. After a series of complications and surgeries to the finger he broke at Brno in 2011, his doctor advised Hopkins that the best course of action was to have the finger removed, and so the American had immediate surgery to amputate the finger, to allow him to be ready for the start of the 2012 World Superbike season, which kicks off at Phillip Island on February 26th. After the surgery, Hopper posted a photo of his bandaged right hand, minus the missing half a finger, on Twitter.
Below is the press release issued by the Crescent Suzuki team on Hopkins' finger:
Despite the loss of the factory Yamaha team, the World Superbike series is still in relatively good health, considering the financial crisis. Though the days of 30+ rider grids are gone, grid size has stabilized at around the 22 rider mark, 1 up from last year, while there are still 6 manufacturers present, Aprilia, BMW, Ducati and Kawasaki in an official capacity, Honda unofficially via Ten Kate, and Suzuki absent, with Crescent working with Yoshimura on their own bikes.
The field has seen some changes, though most of the title favorites are staying with the teams they were with in 2011. Carlos Checa remains with Althea Ducati, though the effort expands to include 2011 Superstock champ Davide Giugliano, while Max Biaggi is in the second year of his 2-year contract with Aprilia, and Johnny Rea is staying with the Ten Kate Honda squad. Championship runner up Marco Melandri has been forced to move, joining Leon Haslam at BMW, while his erstwhile teammate Eugene Laverty has been paired with Biaggi in the factory Aprilia squad. The factory Kawasaki rider contingent is cut from 3 to 2, Chris Vermeulen losing his slot, while Tom Sykes remains alongside Joan Lascorz.
Crescent Suzuki sets out on a new adventure for 2012, part of the team moving up from the British Superbike series, the other part moving sideways, as some of the former Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team join the BSB contingent for their first assault on the World Superbike series. To get the new challenge started, Crescent issued a press release interview with Team Principal Paul Denning, in which he discusses what the team faces in the upcoming season. In the interview, Denning talks about the level of WSBK, the differences between the BSB-spec Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and the WSBK machine, and how he expects riders John Hopkins and Leon Camier to fare.
Below is the full text of the Crescent Suzuki press release:
Crescent Suzuki finally announced their full line up in World Superbikes for 2012, issuing a press release confirming the addition of John Hopkins to the team, to be racing alongside Leon Camier. The announcement of Hopkins as rider was no real surprise, and had been expected almost from the moment that Crescent announced their intention of racing in World Superbikes next season.
It was Suzuki's official confirmation - equally expected - that they would be withdrawing from MotoGP that allowed Crescent and Hopkins to finalize the deal. The American had been holding on to hopes of a return to the MotoGP series, either with the Rizla Suzuki squad or on a satellite Honda, but with Stefan Bradl taking the LCR slot and no Suzuki, the only options Hopkins had in MotoGP were a CRT ride. His loyalty to the team and the level of competitiveness expected from the Crescent Suzuki team (which, though it will not have any factory support, will be working closely with the legendary Japanese firm Yoshimura, see separate press release below) meant that the logical choice for the America was to switch to World Superbikes for 2012.
As had been widely anticipated, the Crescent Suzuki team have announced that they will be switching from the British Superbike series to compete in World Superbikes in 2012. The team, who were runners up in the BSB championship with John Hopkins, had been looking at competing in WSBK for some time now, their intention strengthened by a strong outing during the British round of WSBK at Silverstone back in July. The strong year in BSB convinced the team to move up to WSBK.
There is still much information missing from Suzuki press release. The rider line up is yet to be announced, though the chances are very strong that John Hopkins will be one of the two riders. There is also no mention of factory support, but with Suzuki withdrawing support from the Alstare team and Crescent's strong links to Suzuki in the UK and Suzuki headquarters in Hamamatsu through the Rizla Suzuki squad, also run by the Crescent operation, the chances are good of receiving support in some form or other, as the reference to "additional developments and enhancements" would appear to suggest.
With Suzuki now confirmed in WSBK, the waiting is for the announcement from the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP squad. That announcement is expected some time over the weekend, with Alvaro Bautista having said that he expects to make a decision on his future in the next 48 hours.