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New boy Hopkins savours first taste of MotoGP action

New boy Hopkins savours first taste of MotoGP action

New boy Hopkins savours first taste of MotoGP action

The IRTA tests at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana have presented the first real opportunity to cast an eye over one of the new kids on the MotoGP block, 18 year-old AMA Formula Xtreme champion, John Hopkins. The American youngster will this season ride for the Yamaha Red Bull team, alongside the experienced Garry McCoy, and while admitting that his first competitive season of racing outside the US will be something of a learning curve, Hopkins is undoubtedly relishing the challenge that lies ahead.

'I'm really looking forward to the whole experience, as it has always been my ambition to ride in Grands Prix, and I've actually got the opportunity right now to ride for the Red Bull Yamaha crew, so I'll be going for it 110 percent,' said the Californian based starlet. 'It's unbelievable to be riding in the World Championships, and getting to see all the places. It can definitely get overwhelming sometimes but for the most part I'm really enjoying it a lot, and it's just a great opportunity for me.'

Hopkins had been recommended to Red Bull Yamaha boss, Peter Clifford, and tested with the team on a couple of occasions last term while Nori Haga was still part of the set-up. With Haga's return to the Superbike arena, Hopkins was handed the chance to prove himself in the inaugural season of the MotoGP category. He'll be riding a YZR 500, and stated, 'Of course we're still working on some things, and I'm definitely having to get used to the bike and will be doing so throughout the season, but I've really taken it to my liking and am having a fun time with it right now.'

With the introduction of the big bore 4-stroke prototypes to the MotoGP class, many believe the 2-strokes will be facing a distinctly uphill battle in this year's championship race, but the fresh-faced rookie certainly wasn't ruling out their chances, 'Well it's hard to tell at the moment, but it's going to be really interesting. It's good that we can now get out on the track with them and see what their capabilities are how we compare.'

While he was initially off the pace during the IRTA tests at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, his fastest lap from Friday and Saturday being a 1'37.720, Hopkins did get much valuable track time and has already set himself a target for the forthcoming season, 'The top 15 in the championship I'd have to say is my first goal, and then just to pick up as much as possible, taking the whole year as a learning experience.' Come the first race in Suzuka on April 7, many eyes will be on him to see just how far he has come.

Tags:
500cc, 2001, John Hopkins

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