RED BULL SIX WHEELER AT VALENCIA WITH HOPKINS AND LIUZZI
The Formula 1 World Championship ended over a week ago and the MotoGP series finished on Sunday, so what would MotoGP star John Hopkins and F1 racer Tonio Liuzzi do for a bit of post-season fun? Why, get back on a race track of course!
Today, the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer and the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver, both of them part of the Red Bull family, took part in a special seat-swap event, riding and driving each other's machines around the Valencia circuit that hosted the MotoGP finale on Sunday.
"I've been looking forward to today for weeks now," said Hopkins, who admitted his only other experience of a four wheeled race vehicle took place in a go-kart. "Ever since I had the seat fitting, this experience could not have come soon enough and today was a dream come true."
"At first it was a bit overwhelming, looking at all the buttons on the steering wheel, but once I understood the most important thing is to keep the heat in the tyres under braking then it all got easier. It's easy to say you can do this but when the time actually comes, it's quite a challenge and I spun it a couple of times."
"Then I began to get the hang of braking very late and on my final run I got a feeling for the car moving around underneath me. I could feel it drifting and I could sense the front end pushing coming out of the corners. I was trying my hardest and going for it without being reckless."
Before today, Hopkins admitted his target was to get his car lap time down to what he did on his Rizla Suzuki MotoGP bike this weekend. He wasn't messing around: 1.31.65 on two wheels and a very impressive 1.19.8 on four, which is only around 5 seconds off a competitive F1 driver's time at this track!
"By the end of the run, it began to feel natural to me," added Hopkins. "I think I'd consider racing one of these in the future. I always knew it would be easier for me to get into four wheels than for Tonio on two, but with his lack of experience I think he did real good. He popped a wheelie and got his knee down!"
So what did Liuzzi think? "It was an orgasm! It was f***ing cool! It was really great!" Did we mention Mr. Liuzzi is an excitable Italian? "I've always loved bikes but after today, I love them even more, because the guys who race these are unbelievable and not human."
"The bike is like a crazy horse and it is really difficult to keep the front end down. I was trying, but I kept something in reserve because I could feel the shadow of Franz and Gerhard (Toro Rosso team bosses Tost and Berger) telling me to be careful as I am testing in two weeks!"
"I think you just need to take more risks than I was prepared to take today. The way you tackle the lap is very different on two wheels, as the most important thing is to have the balls to keep the throttle open. It was a fantastic adrenalin rush. The most amazing thing about the bike was the grip, as you can lean right over. Unbelievable. I would love to have a race on this bike."
And an assessment of his fellow Red Bull rider? "The Formula 1 car is a much more complicated technically to drive than the bike," reckoned Tonio. "But once John got the hang of the car and how it handled, he was very impressive and very fast."
-credit: toro rosso