It started out as a rumor, with Crash.net reporting that John Hopkins could see himself once again taking to the Suzuki GSV-R in a one-off wild card race during the 2011 season. That notion in the past few days has expanded to to include Hopper riding at the IRTA test in Qatar next month, presumably to see if he would be capable of replacing Alvaro Bautista, should the Spanish rider become injured during the 2011 season.
For those keeping track, that’s Hopkins going from the AMA, to the BSB Championship, and now MotoGP (albeit as an alternate) in a matter of months; and as MCN reports, it’s due largely to the fact that Paul Denning owns not only the Crescent Suzuki Team, but is also the Team Manager for the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP effort.
Hopper’s semi-return to MotoGP comes about from Suzuki’s commitment to being at every race for the 2011 season. Running only a single-rider for the upcoming season, Denning has to contend with the possibility that his rider, Alvaro Bautista, could become injured and require a replacement (apparently riders sometimes crash in MotoGP, who knew?).
Accordingly, Denning hasn’t had to go far into his rolodex to find a suitable rider with experience on the Suzuki GSV-R, as John Hopkins is now a contracted team member on his British Superbike team Crescent Suzuki. Hopkins has perhaps had the most successful campaign on the GSV-R, finishing fourth in the MotoGP Championship, four podiums, and one pole posistion over the five years on the Suzuki.
Hoppers contract with Denning, is also rumored to contain provisions for two World Superbike wild card rides, in addition to being the first choice candidate should Bautista become injured and need replacement. It appears Hoppers move to BSB wasn’t just to find a new venue, but to climb his way back into the premiere classes of motorcycle racing.