Which of the following riders was invited to test a full-works 500 GP bike on an empty GP circuit at the age of 17?
A. Nicky Hayden B. Valentino Rossi C. Mick Doohan D. John Hopkins E. Max Biaggi F. Ben Bostrom
Well, if you read the title to this article, you probably guessed John Hopkins. I bet you wouldn’t have guessed John Hopkins if you hadn’t read the title of the article, however. Who is John Hopkins?
Mr. Hopkins is a 17 year old high school student from Riverside County, California. He is also yet another American roadracing prodigy — currently leading the AMA 750 Supersport championship and a multi-time AMA National winner. John is under the tutelage of Roadracing World’s John Ulrich (also a Riverside County resident).
With all the attention the Hayden brothers, the Bostrom brothers and Valentino Rossi receive as “child prodigies” (Well, the Bostroms are not children any more, are they?) Hopkins has not received his fair share of the press reports. The kid is extremely fast, however, and smooth. For these reasons (and, apparently, because of Ulrich’s contacts), Hopkins was invited by the Red Bull Yamaha 500cc Grand Prix team to test a full-works Yamaha YZR500 at Brno in the Czech Republic. According to a report on the test in Roadracing World, Hopkins clocked a 2:06 flat on the circuit — less than 3.5 seconds off the quickest race lap recorded at Brno by Honda factory rider Tadayuki Okada. Roadracing World quotes Hopkins as stating, in part, that “the 500s aren’t really too hard to ride — not like everyone says.” Is this confidence, or what?
Well, Hopkins is currently contesting both the AMA 750 Supersport championship (which he leads — as stated above) and the Formula Extreme championship (currently in fourth place aboard a Suzuki GSXR750 — giving away several cubes to the big boys in the class, including Kurtis Roberts). This kid is for real, and you roadracing fans better keep an eye on him.