HOPKINS TO RIDE FOR KAWASAKI IN 2008 The Kawasaki Racing Team can confirm that John Hopkins will be one of the riders who will spearhead Kawasaki's assault on the 2008 MotoGP world championship, after securing the Anglo-American's signature on a...
HOPKINS TO RIDE FOR KAWASAKI IN 2008
The Kawasaki Racing Team can confirm that John Hopkins will be one of the riders who will spearhead Kawasaki's assault on the 2008 MotoGP world championship, after securing the Anglo-American's signature on a two-year contract ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix at Sachsenring.
With his name at the top of most team managers' wish lists, Hopkins turned down a number of lucrative offers from other teams in order to sign with Kawasaki. Securing the 24-year-old Californian's services for the next two years was the culmination of weeks of negotiations between Hopkins' management company and Kawasaki's Competition Manager, Michael Bartholemy.
"We have had our eye on John for some time, so we didn't hesitate to open negotiations with him as soon as we heard he was considering his options for the next two years," explained Bartholemy.
"The discussions haven't been easy, as John is probably the most sought after rider in the paddock at the moment, but we are happy that, of all the options open to him for next year, he finally chose to join Kawasaki."
Hopkins, who hails from San Diego in California, made his Grand Prix debut in 2002 for the WCM Red Bull team, for whom he raced a 500cc two-stroke against the new breed of four-stroke MotoGP machines.
After impressing during his rookie year, for the following season Hopkins secured a seat alongside former 500cc world champion, Kenny Roberts, in the factory Suzuki MotoGP squad, for whom he is now in his fifth season.
While he's undoubtedly made progress during his time in the premier series, Bartholemy believes Hopkins will at last be able to fully realise his considerable talents aboard Kawasaki's rapidly evolving, and improving, ZX-RR. The American already has a head start, being familiar with Bridgestone tyres, which he currently runs, and on which the Ninjas have been making continuous steps forward this season.
"John has both the ability and the determination necessary to win races but, before this year, he maybe hasn't had the machinery necessary. I'm confident that the combination of John Hopkins and Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR will be a potent one next year, and we're looking forward to seeing John realise both his and Kawasaki's full potential," continued Bartholemy.
"For me, John's decision to join Kawasaki for the next two years is a clear indication of just how far we've come with the new team infrastructure and the 800cc Ninja ZX-RR. Just twelve months ago we wouldn't have been in a position to attract a rider of John's calibre, but the situation is very different now. We have proved that Kawasaki has a professional set-up and a competitive package in the Ninja ZX-RR, which is why we now have the option of also signing a proven MotoGP race winner to ride alongside John Hopkins next season.
"Signing two top riders to campaign our bike in 2008 was always one of Kawasaki's primary goals for this year and, thanks mainly to the trust shown in the team by our colleagues in Japan, we are close to achieving this target before the midseason break. Once we've finalised our rider line-up for next season we will then look closely at our current team set-up, to see if there is a way to improve even further the level of support we are able to offer to our two riders next year," concluded Kawasaki's Competition Manager.
The Kawasaki Racing Team expect to announce their full rider line-up for the 2008 season shortly after next weekend's U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, where Roger Lee Hayden will make his premier class debut as a wild card entry aboard Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR.