When John Hopkins climbed onboard his Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki GSX-R1000 at Silverstone in the UK last weekend, he joined an elite band of riders that have competed in three championships in the same season.
But Hopkins’ challenge is even more amazing when it’s considered that he is also currently competing in the three different competitions – British Superbike, World Superbike and MotoGP – over three consecutive weekends! The Anglo-American began the process at Silverstone for a WSB Wild-Card appearance with his Samsung Crescent Racing squad. The team impressed on the world stage, with Hopkins achieving an incredible pole-position followed by a fifth place finish in the first race and seventh in the second. He now faces a trip to Brands Hatch for a triple-race BSB weekend that sees Hopkins continue his attack on the BSB title and his final venture – and final championship – in a gruelling trilogy of races will see him compete as a Wild-Card for the Factory Rizla Suzuki squad at Brno on August 14th as team-mate to MotoGP regular Álvaro Bautista.
Hopkins has become the first rider to complete this incredible sequence of National Superbike-World Superbike-MotoGP races in the current 800cc MotoGP World Championship era. However, he is joined in the record-books by former Crescent Suzuki racer Yukio Kagayama from Japan as a rider that has also competed in BSB, WSB and MotoGP in one season and incredibly also in three consecutive weekends. Kagayama was a member of the successful Crescent Suzuki BSB team in 2003 when he made an astonishing run of nine races in nine weekends, including racing in a fourth Championship event when he competed in the Suzuka eight-hour in Japan! Kagayama’s amazing run started at Silverstone in a WSB event, before taking in further BSB rounds, another round of WSB at Brands Hatch and two MotoGP events for Suzuki at Assen in the Netherlands and Donington Park – coincidentally he was Hopkins’s team-mate in both of those Grand Prix outings! Just for the record, Kagayama also completed the hat-trick of three championships in one season previous to 2003, when he starred in the Japanese National Championship, WSB and then the Motegi round of the 500cc Grand Prix Championship alongside reigning Suzuki World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr in 2001.
Hopkins’ return to the world stage completes and incredible comeback by the 28-year-old from Ramona in California. Just 12-months ago he was having corrective surgery to his wrist to save his career after several specialists had said he’d never race again. The operations and rehabilitation were successful and, alongside a personal drive to change his lifestyle and dedicate himself to rebuilding his career, Hopkins competed in the AMA championship towards the end of 2010, even making an appearance on the podium. He was offered the opportunity to re-establish himself in the UK with the Samsung Crescent squad – a team owned by current Rizla Suzuki GP Team manager Paul Denning – and eagerly took the chance. He is currently in second place in the BSB standings and his dedication and loyalty to Suzuki through this season has now seen him rewarded with a MotoGP ride at Brno. Like Kagayama in 2003, Hopkins will now make it three Championships in a row over three weekends for a Crescent Suzuki BSB racer!
“This has been an incredible run of races for me and it is a pretty big deal to do three different championships in three weekends! I know Yukio did it in 2003 and carried on with an amazing run of nine consecutive races, I just have no idea how he managed that! It was good to get back to World racing last weekend at Silverstone, we did ok there, but I think we deserved a little better after qualifying on pole. We’d know how to get a better race distance result if we went back now! The weekend was a boost for all of us as it showed we are good enough to be there. This week at Brands will be busy as we have three races over two days, so there will be little time for rest and relaxation, but the BSB title is my main goal this weekend so I am totally focused on that. Then we go to Brno for the MotoGP race, it’s a really big pleasure to be given this opportunity by Suzuki and I am going there much better prepared than when I rode as a replacement at the start of the season.
“It’s an amazing thing to be in this position when I consider where I was at with my physical condition just a year ago, and I’m so grateful to everyone that has helped me to get back to a decent level. I just hope that from these three race weekends I can produce some quality as well as quantity to repay the faith shown in me. One thing I can guarantee is 100% commitment!”