Ulrich Says Hopper ‘Misled’ About His Fitness for 2010

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John Ulrich, the man behind both Team Hammer and publication Roadracing World, seems to be content on airing his dirty laundry about rider John Hopkins on the WERA board this week. In his postings, Ulrich accuses Hopkins of keeping secret his hand’s deteriorated condition, and misrepresenting his physical fitness and readiness for the 2010 season. This issue has lead to Ulrich saying he won’t work with Hopkins ever again, despite Ulrich discovering the Anglo-American rider at a young age, and essentially jump-starting his motorcycle racing career.

If true, these acts and omissions could amount to fraud and misrepresentation on Hopkins’ part, and our sources tell us Monster Energy Drink is less than enthralled about Ulrich failing to take proper due diligence before signing the rider.

Politely accusing Hopper of being misleading about his physical condition and ability before the 2010 season Ulrich says, “I did a good-faith deal with him based on being told that he was in the same condition as he was when he was getting on MotoGP podiums in 2007. I thought he was ready to win AMA Pro Superbike races in 2010.”

Hopkins in the 2010 season would later go on to have two surgeries to his hand, and as Ulrich puts it, “had the problem and associated extreme pain prior to signing the contract. He [John Hopkins] said afterwards that his wrist lacked so much mobility and had so little range of motion that at the first couple races he had to put his palm flat on the top of the twist grip and pull his hand back to work the throttle, vs. a normal twist of the wrist.”

Hiding an injury is of course nothing new to professional sports, but it could land Hopper in hot water legally if things get taken to court. While oral statements made during a contract negotiation are typically not binding unless written down and incorporated into the contract, it still could be argued that Hopkins entered into his contract with Team Hammer under bad faith, knowing that he would not be able to meet the terms of the agreement.

Whatever the legal ramifications, this appears to be the end of the road for Ulrich and Hopkins. After discovering Hopper when he was eight-years-old, and giving Hopkins his big break in motorcycle racing, Ulrich now says that he won’t be working with the Anglo-American ever again, which may have prompted Hopkins to begin looking for a ride in British Superbike.

While this is certainly just one side of what is surely to be a complex story, John Ulrich has been left holding the bag on the situation with Monster Energy Drink. Rightfully saying that Ulrich failed to do his due diligence before signing Hopkins to Team Hammer, our sources tell us Monster Energy Drink is not too happy about signing up to be a title sponsor to team with an internationally known racer, only to see him not compete in 8 out of 19 races during the season. It’s not clear at this time who will replace Hopkins at Team Hammer, although some indications of whom it will not be, namely Jake Zemke, have been made by Ulrich. As the world turns…

Source: WERA Board; Photo: © 2010 Dan Lo /