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When Johnny Pushes Kenny

I know, I know, we keep writing about MotoGP. There are just so many interesting stories in MotoGP right now.

As you probably know, former World champion Kenny Roberts has a new teammate next year on the Suzuki MotoGP squad. Young John Hopkins, who did surprisingly well on a two-stroke, 500cc Yamaha last year, has his first full factory ride alongside Kenny.

Even Kenny Roberts’ fans are getting tired of the incessant whining about the performance of his Suzuki race bike — something that has gone on since he last won the championship three years ago. Hopkins, who also has plenty of four-stroke experience (including on AMA Formula Extreme four-strokes — which are nearly as powerful as the MotoGP missiles) will push Kenny Roberts hard next year, and the complaining will likely stop. It is difficult to have a younger teammate, like Hopkins, who is ready to be fast right out of the box. Hopkins will be fast on the V-4 Suzuki four-stroke, there is no doubt. Indeed, he was roughly as quick as Kenny Roberts in his very first test on the bike. Roberts lacks the four-stroke experience Hopkins has, and is still struggling with engine braking on his MotoGP machine. Hopkins, meanwhile, seemed to have no problems in this regard in his initial testing.

Hopkins will be good for Roberts, because Roberts is a fabulous rider (as he proved, yet again, in his flawless Motegi victory at the end of his championship season). Together, Roberts and Hopkins could form a threat for podium finishes, provided Suzuki continues to develop the new MotoGP weapon, and reaches a competitive level with the bike.