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John Hopkins shares his inside knowledge of new MotoGP recruit Nicky Hayden

John Hopkins shares his inside knowledge of new MotoGP recruit Nicky Hayden

John Hopkins shares his inside knowledge of new MotoGP recruit Nicky Hayden

When AMA Superbike Champion Nicky Hayden crosses the Atlantic later this year to prepare for his rookie season in MotoGP, he could do worse than seek guidance from his American compatriot John Hopkins. The 19 year old is approaching the end of his own debut campaign in the premier class of motorcycle racing and, as a Rookie of the Year contender, he is well placed to lend a word of advice to his new HRC rival. Likewise, Hopkins´ experience of racing in his homeland gives him inside knowledge of MotoGP´s latest recruit, and was keen to find out more.

`I raced Formula Xtreme and 600, whilst Nicky always rode Superbike so I only actually competed against him just a couple of times,´ reveals Hopkins, currently lying eleventh in the MotoGP World Championship. `In terms of ability and style, he´s a pretty smooth rider, and very dedicated to what he does - he´s always out there putting in a lot of laps. He´s pretty good.´

Having left behind his family and friends to chase his own Grand Prix dream in Europe and beyond, Hopkins is well aware of the challenges which face his compatriot but is confident they can be overcome. `Every race I saw Nicky in the States he´d always have his whole family and about 20 or 30 friends at every single race and it just seemed like it was a big holiday for him. Out there everything was made super-easy for him, so if he´s able to adapt to the lifestyle and the pressure over here then he´ll be alright. I think that will be the main thing for him.´

If Hayden does need someone to turn to during his Grand Prix initiation, he will have an ally in the approachable Hopkins. For now, though, the Yamaha man has one piece of advice: `Just go out there to learn and don´t take it too fast. You can´t go straight to the front at a track you don´t know and on tyres that you don´t know. Nicky´s never ridden on Michelins and they´re going to throw him out on them for the first time so that´s another huge change he´ll have to adapt to, but in my opinion he has what it takes and he´s definitely dedicated enough to stick with it.´

MotoGP, 2002, Nicky Hayden, John Hopkins

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