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Best grid in a year for Hopkins

Best grid in a year for Hopkins

Best grid in a year for Hopkins

Suzuki's John Hopkins earned his best starting position in over a year by qualifying eighth for Sunday's Gran Premi Gauloises de Catalunya. Hopkins rode his factory Suzuki GSV-R around the Montmeló circuit in a time of 1'43.693 - good enough for eighth on the starting grid and the young American's highest qualifying position since qualifying seventh at Jerez last season.

"I set the time today in spite of being in a lot of pain," Hopkins explained. "I re-injured my thumb when the bike got into a tank-slapper yesterday. The new race tyres Bridgestone brought are reinforced, but they are so hard that I was sliding the bike about 70 percent of the time yesterday and it caught up with me."

Hopkins was happy and somewhat surprised with his qualifying results considering how swollen his broken thumb was on Saturday.

"The thumb was so bad that I came in halfway through the session and sat down awhile with it iced," Hopkins continued. "I went back out and turned a 43.8 on the first qualifier and then a 43.6 on the next one so we have a really competitive set up on the bike right now."

Even though Hopkins is encouraged by his qualifying, he's far from confident about Sunday's race.

"It's really frustrating because we finally have a bike that's competitive and now we have issues with our tyres," he said. "We're probably not going to be all that ready for action in tomorrow's race because of my thumb and because the new tyre we have is simply not going to competitive. The tyres that work well won't last the race.

"Bridgestone has a lot of resources and I'm sure they're going to figure this out and get us a good tyre that will be competitive in the upcoming rounds. I'll go out tomorrow and do the best I can."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, GRAN PREMI GAULOISES DE CATALUNYA, John Hopkins

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