Both Hopkins and Cardenas have Grand Prix experience and the M4 Monster Suzuki team looks to present its most aggressive challenge yet in AMA Pro Racing. While both racers already have garnered a remarkable amount of experience, they’re just now entering the prime of their careers. Hopkins is 26 years old while Cardenas is 27.
Hopkins, born in California to British parents, raced for Team Hammer as a teenager and won the 2000 AMA 750 Supersport and 2001 AMA Formula Xtreme titles before joining the MotoGP circus with the WCM Yamaha team. In his first season in Grand Prix, “Hopper” impressed while racing a two-stroke against primarily four-stroke competition and his rise was chronicled in the movie Faster. The next season, John was signed to the factory Suzuki team at 19 years old. Hopkins raced five years with Suzuki before joining the factory Kawasaki MotoGP team for 2008. While in Grand Prix, John won a pole position, finished on the podium four times, twice earned fastest laps honors, and took fourth place in the 2007 MotoGP championship, proving himself to be one of the top riders in the globe’s elite racing series during his seven seasons there.
After a season plagued with injuries in World Superbike, a healthier John Hopkins will join Martin Cardenas for American Superbike.
“I’m really excited to be working with the team and (team owner) John Ulrich again. We had a lot of success when I raced with them at the beginning of my career and I’d like to thank Monster, M4 and all the rest of our sponsors for making it happen. I’m also happy to be back on a Suzuki motorcycle again. I’m feeling healthier than I have in a long time. I think my fitness level is up there with the way it was in 2007 and I’m looking forward to getting out there on the track and enjoying racing again,” said Hopkins. “I have the chance to ride the bike a little bit today at a Fastrack Riders track day at Fontana and I’m really pleased. It is just a shakedown test but the bike feels really comfortable to me. My goals are to learn the bike and the tracks, have a healthy season, perform to the best of my ability, and see where that leaves us in the championship. I’m really happy to have a ride with a great team and be healthy again and I’m looking forward to having a good season.”
“I have full confidence in John Hopkins and his abilities,” said Team Hammer owner John Ulrich. “I really enjoyed working with John before, and I’m really looking forward to working with him again. There is no doubt in my mind that he knows how to ride a motorcycle, and now at age 26 he’s got seven years of Grand Prix experience under his belt. With seven AMA Pro Racing Daytona SportBike race wins in 2009, Martin Cardenas has already demonstrated the potential created by putting a great rider with Grand Prix experience on a competitive motorcycle built by the Team Hammer crew in Alabama, and we’re looking forward to creating the same situation with John. I am proud to welcome John Hopkins and his family back to the AMA Pro paddock and I am very excited to be fielding John in the AMA Pro Racing National Guard American Superbike Championship. With the combination of Martin Cardenas and John Hopkins on M4 Suzukis, we have an exciting opportunity to make great things happen in 2010.”