Rizla Suzuki is in Sepang for the Malaysian Grand Prix where regular racer Ãlvaro Bautista will be joined by wild-card entry John Hopkins.
Bautista is determined to put the disappointment of Australia firmly behind him at a circuit that saw one of his best performances last season. Bautista finished a strong fifth at the 5,543m Malaysian circuit in 2010 and is convinced that the winter testing carried out here, plus the recent promise shown by the Suzuki GSV-R, will enable him to push for a very good result this weekend.
Hopkins arrives at Sepang to partner Bautista fresh from finishing as runner-up in the British Superbike Championship during his first season in the series. He was due to race alongside the Spaniard in Brno earlier this season, but crashed in the practice session and severely broke his finger – an injury that he is still recovering from. Hopkins is in a determined mood ahead of this weekend’s event and is aiming to produce a good performance as he tries to re-establish himself back in MotoGP on a full-time basis.
Situated approximately 60kms south of Kuala Lumpur, the Sepang International Circuit was constructed in 1998 and is one of the most modern and spectacular on the MotoGP schedule. Its layout over 15 turns is a mixture of elevation changes with sweeping curves, a tight hairpin and two wide and very long straights either side of the stunningly impressive grandstands that are a real head-turner for fans and racers alike.
The Rizla Suzuki duo take to the track on Friday – for the first two of three free practice sessions – the third being held on the following morning. Qualifying for the 20-lap race will take place on Saturday afternoon, with the main event getting underway at 16.00hrs local time (08.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 23rd October.
“We need to put the result of last Sunday firmly behind us and concentrate on all the positives we had there. The bike worked really well all weekend on a track that has been difficult for us and if we can continue like that in Malaysia we will be very pleased. We had a good race at Sepang last year and we have some good references from the winter tests so I expect to be competitive. If the luck is finally with us we will have a result that we all deserve, after all the hard work we have put in and the progress we have made.”
“I’m heading to Sepang with only MotoGP on my mind! When I went to Brno I was still in the middle of the BSB season and that was my main priority, but now I am totally focused on doing the best I can for Rizla Suzuki, the team and myself. I want to get back into MotoGP full-time and I cannot wait to get on the bike and show what I can do. I’ve seen Ãlvaro’s performances in recent races and the GSV-R looks like a great piece of kit now, it seems like the factory and the crew have done a good job and I just can’t wait to get on it. My finger is still sore, but that won’t hold me back, I’m so happy to be back here and it’s where I want to stay!”