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Superb Hopkins fighting for the podium

Superb Hopkins fighting for the podium

Superb Hopkins fighting for the podium

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins scored his best ever MotoGP finish with a superb fourth place during Polini Grand Prix of China in Shanghai.

The Anglo-American star got off to a great start from the front row of the grid and ran in second place for over a third of the race. He was passed by eventual winner Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden – both on Honda's – on lap 10 but continued with his strong pace and chased down Colin Edwards. Hopkins tried everything to get past Edwards but just couldn't find the extra speed from his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R to do so. After settling for his hard fought position two laps from the end, he wheelied his bike across the line in fourth place in front of his cheering crew.

Chris Vermeulen had a less happy day. Starting in 12th place he fought hard with several riders early on but a mistake on lap four caused the rookie Australian to crash out. He was unhurt in the incident, but was unable to remount and carry on racing.

Hopkins said: "I'm ecstatic right now! I feel really good about the whole race. I got off the line well and worked hard all through the race. I knew I had to be in the draft of another bike and not to use my tyres up too early. I got behind Colin Edwards and let him pull me along. We were passed by Nicky and Dani, and they were running an unbelievable pace, it was something we couldn't keep with. From then on I stuck on Colin's wheel and thought I'd have a bit more towards the end. I started to push harder in the last few laps, but it was going beyond the limit and at the end of the day I really wanted to finish in my best ever position – so that's what I did!

"I have got to give a big thanks to my whole crew, they worked fantastically all weekend and without them I wouldn't be anywhere – they're a lot of the reason why I am here at Suzuki. The Bridgestone tyres worked awesome today, I reckon I had a bit more edge-grip than Colin and they were still working well at the end of the race.

"I am really happy and I just also want to say it's my Mum's birthday, so Happy Birthday to her and Happy American Mother's Day to her as well – I hope she was pleased with the finish!"

Meanwhile, Chris Vermeulen commented that "obviously not the result we wanted, I didn't finish and I didn't get any points – that's the worst thing. It was difficult all weekend with the weather and learning a new track. The bike felt really good in the race though and everybody seemed really even. I was behind Randy de Puniet, he was holding me up a bit and I made a mistake and nearly ran into the back of him and pushed a bit too hard and lost the front – but hey that's racing! I hope I can learn from that mistake and don't do it again. Full congratulations to John and the whole team – it was a great result for Rizla Suzuki."

MotoGP, 2006, POLINI GRAND PRIX OF CHINA, John Hopkins

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