John Hopkins will be making his return to MotoGP much sooner than he expected, because Rizla Suzuki has officially confirmed that their former rider will take Alvaro Bautista’s place in the second round of the season at Jerez.
Bautista broke his left femur during Friday night practice, and under pressure from Dorna who isn’t exactly pleased with Suzuki for cutting back on their involvement in the series and with the grid down to just seventeen riders, Suzuki had to confirm a replacement rider as soon as possible to avoid even more wrath from Carmelo Ezpeleta.
Rizla Suzuki tried to approch several former MotoGP riders who are currently racing in Moto2, like Anthony West and Alex de Angelis (who filled in for injured Hiroshi Aoyama last season) but were turned down and reserve rider John Hopkins couldn’t reach Qatar in time to take part in tonight’s qualifying session, nor could Suzuki’s test rider Nobuatsu Aoki who is stuck in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami disaster.
This is what team manager Paul Denning said:“The 2011 season hasn’t yet started and to have this huge disappointment already is very difficult to deal with.
The winter tests have been consistent and competitive, especially bearing in mind Álvaro’s ‘race-day’ mentality and his love of fighting with the other guys rather than just riding – we always expect more from him in the races than in the tests, so everything was looking good.
The reason for the crash was quite simple – pushing too hard in this section without enough temperature in the new tyre – very similar to Rossi’s accident in Mugello last year.
But the real reasons behind that – maybe feeling some pressure after losing track time on Thursday night with the arm pump, wanting to get back into the top group of lap-times as soon as possible – are more complex and unfortunately Álvaro paid a heavy price.
This sport is very extreme, and the edge between success and disaster is very small.
We are all disappointed, but he is the poor guy in hospital with a pin in his femur and a tough recuperation ahead.
He has the strength of character and determination to come back from this, and on his behalf we’d like to thank everybody for their kind wishes and support, especially the doctors and staff of the Clinica Mobile who came to the hospital at 2.
00am last night to check on the situation and lend their valuable advice and assistance.
“With regard to the Qatar GP, we really wanted to find a suitable rider and have the Rizla Suzuki on the grid tomorrow but the logistics for John or Nobu simply didn’t allow it.
Also, the Moto2 teams who have riders with MotoGP experience, that we discussed the option with, were understandably reluctant to release a rider at the first round of the championship.
Our reason to explore these options was simply to support the Championship, Rizla and all our partners, but ultimately it is a huge ask to expect any rider to jump for only qualifying and the race and expect too much – safety and common sense have to play their part as well and we fully respect those decisions.
“John isn’t happy with what happened to Álvaro, but I know he will do a solid job for us in Jerez, and we are hoping to arrange a shakedown test beforehand.
Álvaro’s comeback timing isn’t clear, and John has BSB commitments that clash with Estoril and Le Mans, so we need to wait a while before any decisions for those races are made.
“Thanks to all Álvaro’s and the team’s well-wishers, we greatly appreciate it and we will do everything we can to recover quickly from this situation.