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Hopkins to Race AMA: What Do You Think?

Sunday, January 31, 2010
John Hopkins - World Superbike  Donington Park
Hopkins rode for the Stiggy Motorsports World Superbike team briefly last season before injuries took him out of action.
Former factory Suzuki and Kawasaki MotoGP racer John Hopkins will officially race the entire American Superbike Series on a Suzuki GSX-R1000 this year for M4 Monster Suzuki, which is owned by Team Hammer. It was announced in a release here January 30 that Hopkins will ride alongside Colombian Martin Cardenas, who has had success for the Hammer squad the past two seasons in the Daytona SportBike class and re-signed to race an M4 Suzuki GSX-R600 for a third.

This signing reunites Hopkins with Team Hammer and its owner John Ulrich, who owns and runs the M4 Monster Suzuki-sponsored team, the same team which gave Hopkins his professional racing birth nearly a decade ago. Called Valvoline Suzuki at the time, Hopkins won the 2000 AMA 750cc Supersport and 2001 AMA Formula Xtreme titles for the team before heading off to the MotoGP world for the WCM Red Bull Yamaha team. From there he joined the factory Suzuki squad at the age of 19, where he stayed for five years before joining Kawasaki in 2008. Hopkins' GP career is highlighted by a pole position, four podiums, several race fastest laps and a best overall finish of fourth in the championship in ‘07.

Hopkins brings with him long-time personal sponsor Monster Energy drink, which is a new addition to the M4 Suzuki team for 2010. It was originally thought the California native would test ride and do wildcard GPs for an upstart Grand Prix team, in
Hoppers long-time Suzuki connection is gone  with the American now riding for the Kawasaki brand.
Hopkins aboard the factory Kawasaki he rode in MotoGP in 2008. He spent five years with Suzuki prior to his short stint with Team Green.
which he was in talks, but the prospect of racing a full season on completive equipment won the 26-year-old over. With the new rules and spec tires leveling the playing field greatly, expect Hopkins to be on a motorcycle on par with anything in the field this year. It’s all up to the journeyman racer to do the rest. No doubt filled with talent, an injury-free season could be exactly what Hopkins needs to rebound from his recent bad luck the past few seasons – be it uncompetitive equipment or injuries, Hopkins hasn’t had an easy run of it.

Hopkins recently rode his M4 Suzuki GSX-R1000 at a local trackday in an effort to get as much seat-time as possible on the AMA-spec Superbike. His first official AMA test will be this coming week at California Speedway.

"I'm really excited to be working with the team and (team owner) John Ulrich again,” Hopkins said in the release. “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. 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."
John Hopkins has signed to race the 2010 AMA Pro Racing season with Team M4 Monster Suzuki.
Hopper gives his new AMA Superbike a try...

Equally as excited, team owner John Ulrich added: "I have full confidence in John Hopkins and his abilities. 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."

Some big name riders are exactly what AMA Pro Racing needs and John Hopkins is definitely a step in the right direction. Let us know what you think by leaving comments below. Is it too little too late or a glimmer of hope?
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Edgar -Pity  February 3, 2010 08:15 PM
What a shame. So much potential and so little luck. What happened to John last year in WSB? I don't remember hearing his name. I guess any ride is better than none. Good luck John.
NorCalFilth -Forgot.....  February 2, 2010 04:23 PM
Oh yeah what do i think about Hopkins coming back? Well i am for it. And good luck to him, i think this is going to be a very exciting year. Don't worry guys i will give you all updates as the year progresses because i know none of you will be watching.HAHAHA, you can lie to eachother, and to yourself but i know that you will all watch Daytona!
NorClFilth -Topgearamerica - Haters all of you  February 2, 2010 03:11 PM
Finally someone who gets it!!!!! You sound like a real roadracing fan!! All the haters are all just a bunch of Steve Atlas/Dean Adams a$$kissers.
larry Phillips -DMG  February 2, 2010 02:41 PM
DMG suck
Fast eddie -hopkkins  February 2, 2010 12:02 PM
I like Hopkins hope he has an injury free season this year.the series really needs a boost and he is the guy to do it.Hope the other factorys will join in the action next year.It use to be fun to watch ama but not recently,we need more competition.All these good riders scoot to motogp just to get swallowed up,and become average top tens if they are lucky.Hope Hopkins stays in ama for a while but like the rest of them he will leave the first chance he gets.Lets hope i am wrong.
Topgearamerica -Haters all of you  February 2, 2010 11:15 AM
I'll be the first to admit AMA had its share of WTF moments last year, but I extremely doubt anybody here will be clicking through the channels, see motorcycles turning wheels, realize its AMA, and turn it off in spite... Of course your going to watch WSBK and MotoGP but don't try to be all high and mighty saying you could do better and your not going to watch cause you know you will, maybe not with the same diligence as before but you'll watch. The series struggled and I think people got to wrapped up in it to notice that the sport-bike class saw some great racing last year. With Mat the cherry picker gone I think this year will hold some honest to goodness racing. Spies won his three and moved on, good move, Mladin who never really had a good reason for not going further with his career stayed and won by miles cause he could and he collected checks (he said it was for his family but as a family man I know that is a total cop out cause any family would want you to do what you wanted to do to be the best). Neil Hodgson said when he was in WSBK on his worst day he was a second behind Bayliss and now he was fighting to stay within 3 of Mat and when Mat did 1 wildcard round in WSBK he won super pole at Laguna... The point is we got so greedy watching Nicky, Ben, and Mat that now everyone else is crap by comparison which is an unfair assessment. Those are 3 not just world caliber riders, but 3 world champion caliber riders that have past right in front of us. I'm excited to see Hopper race on competitive equpiment in my back yard, I'm excited to see Hayes finally get his day in the sun, I'm excited to see Tommy Hayden play the wildcard for some good clean racing, I'm excited to see Ben Bostrom rock the crap out of that R1 again. I'm excited for this year to be better than last year. Ben Bostrom put it best last year when he says he comes to race, for it to be close, who wants to win by 30 seconds that's not fun. In Minnesota we have the CRA and a guy you may all know well Robert Jensen got is start at BIR. When he comes back he wins... Like Mladin did, 30 seconds on the field in an 8 lap sprint... Is it fun watching him go, most defiantly. But the most fun we have all weekend is watching Jessica Zalusky and Aaron Anderson go back and forth for the lead for 10 laps in the trophy dash and a bike length is the difference in the end or the heavy weight race where an RC51 and a 1098 are nose to tail the entire time. For the series there maybe faults, but at least its got nowhere to go but up, for the racers being 2nd rate, unless your out there you can't say S***, and as far as the racing, this year may see some of the best bar banging we have seen in a while.
Mark Braunschweig -dad  February 2, 2010 06:56 AM
If he takes a beatdown in the ama, well you know.
Fabfortune50 -Too Little Too Late  February 2, 2010 06:25 AM
Even with arguarbly one of the best young riders to ever leave our shore, the series is doomed. Man up and adopt FIM rules so manufacturers can all shoot at one target and they (The Fans) will come.
irksome -sh!t  February 1, 2010 07:11 PM
"FROM" competitive racing...
irksome -why not?  February 1, 2010 07:10 PM
Taking a year off competitive racing might be just what he needs...
sburns2421 -Reality check  February 1, 2010 05:39 PM
You guys seem to forget 2007 (Hopkins best year) was an odd season for MotoGP with the Bridgestones vastly superior to the Michelins. Suzuki benefitted from this as did Kawasaki and it frankly made the bikes look better than they really were when you have factory Hondas and Yamahas out of the mix on their French rubber.
My guess is the reason Hopkins is racing anywhere in 2010 is to keep his Monster millions flowing. It is telling that no WSBK team, even a top private team always looking for cash, wanted him even with his sponsorship dollars. Perhaps they see him as damaged goods, or are afraid of the repair bills he causes.
His career has been one of unfilled promise, American Superbike is likely his last chance and only option. Don't expect Kawasaki to come calling if they go back to MotoGP unless he absolutely dominates US roadracing. Remember who Kawasaki hired this year to try to return them to respectability in WSBK? Chris Vermuelen, Hopkins teammate at Rizla Suzuki.
MotoBell -ganinfo@gmail.com  February 1, 2010 05:09 PM
First of all phenomenal talent that has not realized his full potential - I have no doubt he is better than NIcky Hayden in raw speed and can do the business in motogp with competitive machinery - he never had that - poor career management and bad luck. Even if he wins here, it may not restart hi GP career - AMA currently awful and a big demotion - unfortunately for John his WSB stint didn't work out and AMA may not work out as well - the tracks are stop and go.. may be he will get the wild card next year. I can truly understand wanting a slightly relaxed year at home and injury free season by not pushing like hell to stay with gp or wsb boys - i support him doing it. but he needs to target wsb next year again - GP is out other than wild card rides or uncompetitive machinery It is sad - remember the FASTER motogp movie? Hopper was going to be the next big thing and it is still believable - unfortunately the WSB move and not performing has ended any hope of a GP career.. I really hope I am wrong as I love the guy would love for him to rebound
Henrietta Lacks -Conspiracy Theory  February 1, 2010 01:05 PM
I am inclined to believe that there is more to this than meets the eye. Clearly no team in WSBK can use him at the moment as the team rosters are set. But what about the possibility that this stint is merely a stay fit predicator of a return to motoGP and a ride with a reestablished factory Kawasaki squad? There has to be something in Hopper's back pocket that he's keeping his racing career alive by accepting this huge demotion. I think Kawasaki will be keen on participating in motoGP once the screamers return to the 990cc format where they were much more competitive than in the 800cc class. I also figure they owe John for his loyalty and for stepping away midgame.
Todd -Hopper Hopeful?  February 1, 2010 12:08 PM
Been watching him since he came up in WERA and Supersport racing; but this feels like a big demotion to me. I know he needs a jumpstart to his career as it has floundered the last few seasons, mostly due to injury, but still floundering none the less. I see a small glimmer of hope for the series as Bostrom also has a good ride with factory supported bikes, so you never know. But last count was only 15 bikes for the 200, which I was going to go watch, but have now canceled my trip south. Superbike needs about 10 guys that can win, not just 2, so lets see how this year goes; I'm watching WSB.
SAMXRL -Don't do it!!  February 1, 2010 11:37 AM
They threw a party and nobody came!! That's the usual attendance at those races anyway.(attendance in the dozens!!) Hopkins has the credentials and the talent to be in WSB or supersport. AMA would be a BIG demotion! Let the AMA races go the way of the DoDo bird. My 2 cents worth...
R34 -Hopper?  February 1, 2010 11:06 AM
Don't get me wrong...I LOVE Hopper. He is no doubt a bad ass, but a bad ass that made a HUGE mistake in changing from Suzuki to Kawi in GP. This decision made a drastic change in career path I would have never seen coming. Had he stayed with Suzuki when he changed to Team Green, I am sure he would have been top 5...he was so competitve his last year with Suzuki. I feel for the guy though...at 26 years old, he is about as banged up as a veteran FMX pro. YES, he is a PRO, top athlete with top health...but c'mon, his body has got to be feeling like Brett Farve after playing the Saints. He is by far one of the top racers in the world...given where he's been competing most of his life. But, he hasn't exactly brought home the bacon in GP, but as a development rider in bringing Suzuki to success in the right direction...YES, huge praise...all of this does NOT mean he is a lock for the title in AMA Nascar Superbikes. I don't know what it is with Hopper...the guy frustrates me because I WANT him to win and do well, but damn, he reminds me of James Stewart without the progression. This guy must like hospital food...
Mad4TheCrest -At Least One Bright Spot!  February 1, 2010 10:56 AM
Hopkins racing in the US is a godsend to the series. His career may have been skidding on ice of late, but he's a top-level talent, and that's what AMA/DMG needs as much of as possible to re-legitimize its battered program.
KT -Hopper  February 1, 2010 10:22 AM
Huge fall from grace... AMA/DMG is unwatchable this year...
Brian Dolnick -hopper in US is great.  February 1, 2010 10:19 AM
I'm excited to see him race. his shortened season in world SBK wasn't what he hoped I'm sure.
I go to the races for the guys that are on the track, not the organization running it.
I'll be at Infineon and Laguna this year, so the less people the better to get to get to see John on the paddock!
KFT -Hopkins  February 1, 2010 09:04 AM
To be honest I'm suprised he is'nt racing WSBK. He has raced GP bikes for awhile so it will be intresting to see him on the GSXR. Team Hammer will be a force to reckon with in 2010 for sure.
Poor Hopper -A step down  February 1, 2010 08:09 AM
With most top American riders attempting to flee the AMA and go overseas, it's sad to see Hopkins coming in to the series. He has talent (4th in MotoGP on a Suzuki is a major achievement) but a series of bad career moves and injuries seem to have left him out on the international scene. I hope he is able to rebound from here.
Kirk Harrington -Hopperrated  February 1, 2010 07:38 AM
I believe that this year Hopper will be fast in a field of second-rate Superbikes. I believe he will win, but only 2-3 races. I believe that this will be a competive season for about 5 guys and the rest will take up grid space. I believe that we fans have been truly jacked out of the coolest national series on Earth. I believe that I will not be attending any races for the first time in 9 yrs. I believe Pro Racing is in need of real professional guidance and no one has the nads to step up.
Gads -If he doesnt win...  February 1, 2010 05:39 AM
If hopper doesn't win the championship it will be embarrassing. With Mladin gone it should be possible, but hopper has only been going down. We'll c....
max -bikes  February 1, 2010 04:54 AM
He was never really competitive at the GP level anyway. So he might as well take a step down a level where he might be on a level playing field. Even though the AMA is a complete joke!

max -bikes  February 1, 2010 04:53 AM
He was never really competitive at the GP level anyway. So he might as well take a step down a level where he might be on a level playing field. Even though the AMA is a complete joke!

Erick Schmitt -Great  February 1, 2010 03:04 AM
Now all they need is to adopt world superbike rules, to match the riders talent, and fire everybody at the ama!!
Tim B -Hopkins  January 31, 2010 08:53 PM
I doubt he had many options so this is probably a good decision. And he will now be a big fish in a little pond instead of a small fish in a large pond so he should do well. That is, as long as he can stay healthy. I agree that he better win the championship or it will be a failure for him and probably the nail in the coffin for his career, especially outside of AMA. Hopefully he can use this as a stepping stone to rebuild his confidence and his career and hopefully give him another shot on the world stage.
Jayson -Stupid Move  January 31, 2010 08:20 PM
Should've waited till the DMG owned AMA stupid series die first. Or at least get sold to a new owner. If John doesn't totally dominate it'll be seen as evidence that his career is truly on the down turn. And if he dominates he'll be seen as winning a joke of a series.
GollyGwiz -Go Hopper  January 31, 2010 08:06 PM
At least it will give me a reason to watch the series.
sburns2421 -Put up or shut up  January 31, 2010 07:52 PM
Anything less than the championship should be seen as a failure for Hopkins. It really is time to show everyone he is a world-class rider. If he fails to do that he will never ride in a world championship series again.
B Kong -Waste of His Time.  January 31, 2010 07:31 PM
Why be a big fish in a small pond now? Theres only 2 factory superbike teams in the US now...does anyone really care to watch? I'm not. He had the chance to go out with dignity in MotoGp and passed that up to go to a dead US roadracing series.....he might be better off going to WERA! F--K AMA/DMG, let it die altogether and I'll buy it for $100.
bikerrandy -Hopkins in `10 AMA Superbike racing  January 31, 2010 07:29 PM
What do I think?....................I think Hopkins is desperate to get to the position he had a year ago before the rug was pulled out from under him at Kawasaki Moto GP.

It looks like this AMA deal is the only real deal he has left to still have a road racing job that pays. I also think that Hopkin's peformance is questionable, that he really didn't accomplish that much for the last 8? years as a MC road racer to end up in Moto GP at all. So now this coming AMA year he has to prove hisself as a serious MC road racer.

At the same time at this point I'm not sure if the current AMA RR series is worth paying to observe other than on TV. I'm in a wait and see mode. If he has some success in the current situation.......then more power to him. But seeing is believeing.
Steve Guanche -CCS Florida Ex.# 15  January 31, 2010 07:00 PM
Hopper will be just fine for 2010. The last 2 years have been brutal in his carrer and 2010 will be a personal rebuild and assessment year.
We can only wait and see what positive results the 2010 season may bring.
BRKNtibia -Old News  January 31, 2010 05:52 PM
This subject has been discussed to death already. You're late to the party. Give it a rest.
MotoFreak -Hopkins  January 31, 2010 05:34 PM
I say good for him and the AMA. With some of my favorites not getting a ride (Hacking), it will be good to have some stars in the class. I hope he does well and stays a while.