Hopkins ready for WSBK debut

American to race at Valencia

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Mar. 31, 2009
John Hopkins says he is prepared to make his World Superbike Championship debut in Valencia, Spain.

The ex-MotoGP rider has completed his first test with his new team Stiggy Racing Honda at the Almeria Circuit in Spain.

“I am really happy with the testing we have done in Almeria,” says Hopkins. “The first impression of the bike and my new team is really good. The size of the motorcycle makes a big difference, it feels good to be able to move around on the bike again.”

Hopkins will make his Superbike debut riding the new Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR at the April 5 WSBK stop in Valencia, Spain. Though he has never raced WSBK before, the former AMA Formula Xtreme and Supersport champion says the literbike is suited to his riding style.

“After my disappointing season last year, it’s great to get out on track and enjoy riding a bike again. I’ve never been on a Superbike in my life but the size of the motorcycle makes a big difference and suits my style,” says Hopkins.

Hopkins, a native of Ramona, Calif., signed with Stiggy Honda after being left adrift by Kawasaki’s decision to pull its MotoGP program. Kawasaki eventually came to terms with MotoGP organizers to supply bikes for the one-rider Hayate team. The team however decided to go with the newly-signed Italian Marco Melandri despite Hopkins’ experience with the Kawasaki ZX-RR.

John Hopkins tests the Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR at the Almeria Circuit.Ironically, Hopkins’ arrival at Stiggy Honda comes at the expense of another Italian rider. Hopkins replaces Roberto Rolfo on the Stiggy squad to race with former British Superbike rider Leon Haslam. Hopkins is also reunited with his former Kawasaki MotoGP teammate, Anthony West who races for the Stiggy Honda World Supersport team.

“John has shown to be very easy to work with,” says Johan Stigefelt, Stiggy team manager. “He’s very optimistic and professional. He is not rushing anything, but just takes it step by step.”

The next step for Hopkins will be at the Valencia Circuit which hosted his last MotoGP race. Hopkins finished 14th in the 2008 MotoGP finale, but he has been on the podium at Valencia before with a third-place finish in 2007.

“I am looking forward to racing in Valencia this weekend and feel I am coming well prepared, despite not having had a lot of time on-track yet. I know the Valencia track well and should be able to put in a good performance,” says Hopkins.