WSBK – John Hopkins arrives in the World Superbike! –

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John Hopkins arrives in World Superbike !

WSBK - John Hopkins arrives in the World Superbike! -

After the first two rounds of the Superbike World Championship, Ben Spies is already imposing his law. But from the next meeting, a second American will compete against the Haga, Biaggi, Corser, Neukirchner and other Checa: a certain John Hopkins !

Since Kawasaki’s official withdrawal from MotoGP in 2009 (read), John Hopkins, now SGF ("without fixed handlebars"), had not benefited from the same support – from the Dorna, in particular – as his ex-future teammate Marco Melandri to stay in the top category.

Sometimes announced in AMA Superbike, sometimes in World Superbike – to replace Tamada, still at Kawa? … -, Hopper had decided not to reveal any negotiations concerning him for the coming season. So much so that we almost forgot !

And while the new season of Mondial SBK has already started on the hats of wheel (read our), the famous n ° 21 returns to the front of the stage, in the company of the team of Stiggy Racing Honda.

It is therefore in "World SBK" that John will be racing this year on a Honda CBR1000RR, alongside the n ° 91 Leon Haslam. Roberto Rolfo is therefore paying the price for this late transfer: "I want to thank my mechanics who helped me in this short season. I also want to stress, in order to prevent any misunderstanding, that the decision has nothing to do with my physical condition, which is perfect at the moment, but is based entirely on reasons beyond my influence.", indicates n ° 44, in search – in turn! – of a new handlebars…

For his part, John Hopkins is naturally delighted with his return to competition: "I have watched Superbike in recent years and this discipline is still very impressive", testifies the Anglo-American pilot, born of English parents in Ramona, California.

Like Max Biaggi, Makoto Tamada, Carlos Checa, Shinya Nakano or Anthony West – his former teammate at Kawasaki in 2008, who is racing in the World Supersport this year … at Stiggy too! -, John Hopkins has carefully noted that the SBK World Championship "keeps growing and attracts more and more attention".

The 21, what number !

Like No.23 in the Chicago Bulls or, closer to us, No.34 in MotoGP, No.21 is no longer available in the World Superbike, because he is forever associated with the charismatic Troy Bayliss and his three Ducati.

In 2009, John Hopkins will therefore not ride decked out in his usual No. 21 but … 121! A fair return of things, Bayliss having had to reverse the order of his favorite number (n ° 12, therefore) when he came to compete with the bosses of MotoGP … and in particular with n ° 21 John Hopkins !

Would Hopper’s transfer ultimately be good news for his inseparable sponsors Alpinestars, Arai but also Monster energy drinks and Spy Optic glasses, which will thus benefit from better exposure than at the back of the MotoGP grid? ?

For his part, the promoter of the WSBK FGSport can welcome the arrival of Hopkins, since Ben Spies was until now the only representative of the American continent at the world level. !

The Yamaha rider will no longer be the only cowboy to play elbows – literally and figuratively, since John also knows perfectly well "elbow rest" on vibrators! – among the stars of the WSBK to try to obtain Superpoles, lap records in the race and especially podiums, victories, even supreme title…

"Starting from the 3rd round, we will definitely be at a disadvantage in terms of points, but I will just put my head in the handlebars and join the outposts.", warns the one who finished 4th in the MotoGP championship in 2007 at the controls of the official Suzuki GSV-R…

From April 5, it will therefore be on a private CBR1000RR, prepared by Johan Stigefelt’s team, that Hopper will try to shine. But the pilot of almost 26 years – on May 22 – is confident: "from the start, Leon (Haslam, NDLR) showed that the bike could stand on the podium"John recalls.

"So far, Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga have shown their ability to run in the lead and their intentions in the championship.", continues the newcomer in the World SBK whose goal is"accumulate as many podiums and victories as possible"…

Hopkins will benefit from the services of Chief Engineer Kor Veldman for this purpose, "who worked with Vermeulen and Checa and won the world title for Ten Kate with James Toseland in 2007", underlines his new team.

Riding his Fireblade Stiggy, Leon Haslam landed a superb podium in Australia – preceded by a fine 6th place – and his race pace in Qatar should have enabled him to achieve "the Top 5"According to him, if he had not missed his starts and made a straight ahead in the first heat…

But for his part, the colt of the precious Veldman, Roberto Rolfo, was forced to retire in his last two races at Losail – the first on electronic glitch and the second because of mysterious vibrations of the front axle – and did not finished as 13th then 16th at Phillip Island.

As for the results of the Honda Ten Kate team riders, they lack consistency, so much so that one can legitimately wonder if John Hopkins will indeed take the first places from these first races. First answers next month: April 5 in Valence then on April 26 in Assen, two circuits that Hopper knows by heart !

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