News 11 Feb 2011

Hopkins in line to sub for Bautista, will test at Qatar

John Hopkins will test for Rizla Suzuki at Qatar in March, marking his return to MotoGP.

John Hopkins will test for Rizla Suzuki at Qatar in March, marking his return to MotoGP.

American John Hopkins will test for the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team at Qatar on 13-14 March, lined up as a substitute rider for the team’s lone rider Alvaro Bautista.

Hopkins rode in MotoGP for seven seasons until 2008, finishing with a best result of fourth in the title during 2007, will be the team’s official reserve rider in case Spanish star Bautista is unable to complete any races during this season.

“John won’t be doing the full test in Qatar, he will be doing some riding on the bike to help us out with some PR and filming work,” team manager Paul Denning commented to

“That will give him the opportunity to do some laps and get a feel for the bike, and he will be there at the test in case we need him – we’re not sure whether we’re going to need him during the test or not.”

In shrinking to a single rider for 2011, Suzuki is in need of a back-up plan in case anything happens to Bautista.

“With only one rider we’ve got to think carefully about a back-up plan, in case something goes wrong,” Denning continued. “We’re obviously very much hoping that we don’t have to call on it at any point, because we’re putting everything behind Álvaro and that’s the priority.

“But we have an obligation to Suzuki, to Rizla and to all the team’s partners to be at all the races so we do need to have a plan. John is available, he’s got experience and he’s fit and focused, and so he would seem to be the right man to do that job.”

Despite Hopkins being due to test the bike, there are no plans of a wild card appearance at this point.

“There are no plans like that at the moment,” Denning said. “Should something develop it could be considered, but at the moment it’s not in the plan.”

Hopkins will spend this season in the British Superbike Championship for Crescent Suzuki, that team also run by Denning.