Hopkins Returns to Rizla Suzuki for Spanish GP

john_hopkins_motogpAlvaro Bautista won’t be racing this weekend for the Rizla Suzuki team in Jerez. Bautista is out with a broken femur, and will be temporarily replaced by John Hopkins. Hopkins rode with the Rizla Suzuki team in the MotoGP Championship in 2007.

Hopkins is set to race in the British Superbike series this year with the Samsung Suzuki team, but before the BSB begins, he’ll be helping the Rizla Suzuki team out in the MotoGP.

“I was shocked by what happened to Álvaro, especially after such good winter testing, and I really wish him a speedy and full recovery,” Hopkins said. “I wanted the opportunity to get back on a MotoGP bike, but not under these circumstances.”

“I’m under no illusions that this will be tough weekend for me, as I’ve not been on a GP machine for a couple of years… so I realize this will be a step up from what I have been riding recently.”

Once it was announced that Hopkins would fill in for Bautista, rumors began to circulate that Hopkins might stay in the MotoGP for the rest of the 2011 season. But Samsung Suzuki boss Jack Valentine says that the rumors are rubbish.

“It’s rubbish. John is contracted to race in British Superbikes with us first and as a stand-in rider with the MotoGP team second. There isn’t a clash for this first round but there is for the next couple therefore he will be in BSB,” Valentine told bikesportnews.com.

“John is happy where he is and looking forward to the next set of tests at Brands and Snetterton.”

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Hopkins to Race MotoGP in Jerez Before BSB Debut

john_hopkinsAlvaro Bautista broke his femur during the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP season, and was not able to race at the event. Bautista’s injury left the Rizla Suzuki team without a rider in Qatar, but the Suzuki team will be bringing American John Hopkins to race at the next event in Jerez.

Hopkins will be making his British Superbike debut at Brands Hatch on April 22nd-25th, but before he does he’ll get a nice warm-up with the MotoGP.

“The 2011 season hasn’t even started and to have this huge disappointment already is very difficult to deal with,” said team manager Paul Denning. “We are all disappointed, but Álvaro is the poor guy in the hospital with a pin in his femur and a tough recuperation ahead of him.

“He has the strength of character and determination to come back from this, and on his behalf we’d like to thank everybody for their kind wishes and support. With regard to the Qatar GP, we really wanted to have the Rizla Suzuki on the grid this weekend but the logistics for John or Nobu (Aoki) simply didn’t allow it.”

Hopkins is only scheduled to race with Rizla Suzuki for the Jerez race. It is unclear what the Rizla Suzuki team will do for the rest of the 2011 season.

“Álvaro’s comeback timing isn’t clear, and John has BSB commitments that clash with Estoril and Le Mans,” said Denning. “So we need to wait a while before any decisions for those races are made.”

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Bautista Has Successful Surgery on Left Femur

alvaro_bautista_rizla_suzukiDuring yesterday’s final free practice session for the MotoGP, Alvaro Bautista took a hard fall and broke his left femur. Bautista is now recovering in the Hamad Medical Corporation Hospital in Doha, Losail, after having successful surgery.

Bautista was taken to the hospital after tests on the track showed that he had fractured his thigh bone. This morning, Bautista underwent surgery to realign and pin his femur. Once Bautista is strong enough to travel, he will return to Madrid to begin the recuperation process.

“He will be returning to Madrid as soon as his condition is stable enough to allow him to travel,” said Rizla Suzuki in a statement. “He will be immediately visiting renowned surgeon Dr. Angel Villamor to set about the first steps of his recuperation.”

Bautista is Suzuki’s only entry in the MotoGP this year. With Bautista out for an undetermined amount of time, it is expected that John Hopkins will fill in as his replacement.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

Bautista Ready for Season Opener in Qatar

alvaro_bautistaRizla Suzuki MotoGP rider Álvaro Bautista is ready for the Qatar GP after completing a positive test, and escaping uninjured from a 250km/h crash, earlier this week.

Bautista is eager to get back into the racing groove following some encouraging pre-season tests that have seen him and his crew work on many new settings and components for the Suzuki GSV-R, to make the machine more competitive in all conditions.

The first round of the season is the only night race on the calendar and the hot desert sun will be replaced by thousands of watts of man-made light that will illuminate the 5,380m Losail International Circuit, giving this Grand Prix a very singular and atmospheric feeling.

The Qatar race will also mark the 300th Grand Prix since the FIM, IRTA and Dorna joined forces in 1992 to manage the MotoGP World Championship. This will be celebrated at the event with the whole paddock being invited to take part in a special presentation.
Bautista will take to the track for a unique three nights of practice and qualifying at this year’s Qatar Grand Prix.

The first practice session will be at 19.55hrs local time (16.55 GMT) on Thursday, followed by two further practice sessions on Friday evening, before an hour of qualifying takes place on Saturday at 19.55 local time (16.55 GMT). Sunday’s 22-lap race will get underway at 22.00hrs local time (19.00hrs GMT).

Álvaro Bautista:

“This is where the action really starts and I’m looking forward to this weekend. I like to ride the bike and we’ve had some good tests, but I like to fight with other riders more and be out there racing. We’ve done a lot of good work throughout the winter and that should help us in different conditions and the cooler night temperatures at Qatar will give us a good chance to see how far we’ve come. I’m really focused on the new season and the whole crew and Suzuki are right behind me, which is a good feeling, we now need to get out there and get into the action.”

[Press Release and Photo Courtesy of Rizla Suzuki]

Bautista Shows Good Potential At Day 2 of Sepang Test

alvaro_bautista_sepang_testRizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista made good progress but lost a large amount of test time at Malaysia today due to a severe headache that sidelined the Spanish star.

Bautista (35 laps), had already started today’s wide-ranging programme and had tested new Marchesini wheels, Ohlins rear shock damping specs, and electronic mapping strategies before the pain and dizziness made it unsafe to test further. He received attention at the Clinica Mobile and rested for a few hours. Thereafter, he was able to continue with the day’s testing and to set his fastest time of the day – which was 0.2 seconds better than yesterday’s best.

Nobuatsu Aoki was again on hand to continue with his own test programme at the 5,548m Sepang circuit. He completed another 46 laps to give yet more data for Suzuki to use as it prepares for the new season. Honda’s Casey Stoner was again the quickest rider at the test.

Bautista will be hoping to be back to full fitness tomorrow as the pre-season test schedule reaches its final third. The last day at Sepang will give the teams only three more days testing – with the final two at Qatar in two weeks’ time – before the 2011 MotoGP season kicks off on Sunday March 20th, also at Qatar.

Alvaro Bautista:

“It seems like at this moment the bike has better durability than the rider! This has been bad luck to get sick at two consecutive tests – I feel very drained but I am confident that I will be ok tomorrow after maybe 12 hours sleep! But there was also some positive points today – we tested a new rear swing-arm which improved the rear grip by a reasonable step and also a new engine map which helped the bike punch off the corner better. My best lap was with race distance already completed on the tyres, so for sure I can go quicker with new tyres but today my condition was not the best for a ‘qualifying’ style lap. I’m frustrated but happy – we have improved the Suzuki quite a lot since the end of 2010.”

Rizla Suzuki Day 2 at Sepang

  • 10th Place – Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP) +1.864.
  • 19 place – Nobuatsu Aoki (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP) +4.411.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com