John Hopkins says he knows he faces a very tough task at Jerez this weekend as he returns to MotoGP to substitute for Alvaro Bautista at Suzuki.
After Bautista broke his leg in a practice crash in Qatar last weekend, Suzuki called up its former rider Hopkins to deputize for the Spanish Grand Prix at least. It had already lined up the American, who is now a Suzuki racer in British Superbikes, as a potential stand-in following the decision to scale back to a single MotoGP bike for Bautista.
Hopkins had a brief run on the 2011 Suzuki during a filming ride at Losail in the test prior to the grand prix weekend, but having last raced in MotoGP with Kawasaki in 2008, he admitted there was a lot of readjustment to do.
"I'm under no illusions that this will be tough weekend for me, as I've not been on a GP machine for a couple of years or ridden the new control tires, except for the filming I did in Qatar a couple of weeks ago. So, I realize this will be a step up from what I have been riding recently," he said. "The bikes have moved on in the last three years, but when I rode the GSV-R at Losail it seemed so familiar and I immediately had a good feeling, but that was at filming pace, so it's going to be a lot different at race pace!
"I know the Jerez track well, so it's not like I need to learn a new circuit and I also know the team well so that that will help a lot. I will certainly be trying as hard as I can to get a good result and make sure that I don't disappoint anybody – myself included. I want to say a big thank you to Suzuki and [sponsor] Rizla for giving me this opportunity and I intend to pay back their faith with a good performance on my return to MotoGP."
Hopkins also sent his best wishes to Bautista, who is expected to attend the Jerez race with the team as he recovers from the surgery on his leg.
"I was shocked by what happened to Alvaro, especially after such good winter testing, and I really wish him a speedy and full recovery," said Hopkins. "I wanted the opportunity to get back on a MotoGP bike, but not under these circumstances."