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The rise and rise of John Hopkins

The rise and rise of John Hopkins

One of the most popular riders in the MotoGP paddock, Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins finally got the first podium finish of his World Championship career at the Sinopec Great Wall Lubricants Grand Prix of China on Sunday.

One of the most popular riders in the MotoGP paddock, Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins finally got the first podium finish of his World Championship career at the Sinopec Great Wall Lubricants Grand Prix of China on Sunday.

The Anglo-American 23 year-old had looked competitive throughout Grand Prix weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit where he qualified second on the grid and topped the timesheets in the second two free practice sessions.

Despite badly damaging his right wrist just before the start of the season, Hopkins has looked good so far in 2007, despite suffering a hiccup in Jerez when he slid off-track and onto the gravel – only to remount and cross the line last.

‘Hopper' bounced back to take 10 valuable points by finishing sixth with a solid display in Turkey, having opened the season in Qatar with a fourth place finish.

That performance at Losail matched his best results from last year, where he also managed fourth at Shanghai in the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix in May and then repeated that success as he just missed out on the podium at Catalunya in June.

Hopkins had started last year's race in China on the front row for the first time and was sixth in Assen last June having started a race on pole for the first time in his career.

Last season was completed with San Diego based Hopkins in 10th position overall but he currently sits fifth in the general standings after four Grands Prix in the 2007 season, having improved his all-round performance.

Hopkins undertook his first full MotoGP season in 2002 on Yamaha machinery and switched to Suzuki in 2003, but it took him a while before he started to look competitive - a 5th place in Japan his best result in 2005.

This season Hopkins appears to have matured nicely and is clearly enjoying racing in the new 800cc era, onboard a well set-up Bridgestone equipped Suzuki GSV-R800.

He may have finished Sunday's race 6.663s off Casey Stoner's winning time but he looked comfortable throughout and was even challenging Valentino Rossi for second place during the final laps.

If Hopkins continues to deliver this level of performance it is not beyond reason to suggest that he could very well be tasting premier class Grand Prix victory for the first time in the coming months.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, SINOPEC GREAT WALL LUBRICANTS GRAND PRIX OF CHINA, John Hopkins

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