Hopkins will replace Bautista in Jerez

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Rizla Suzuki will not be able to replace the injured Álvaro Bautista in tomorrow’s Qatar Grand Prix, after exhausting all possible scenarios to get the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on the grid.

The two riders who were most likely to replace Bautista – who broke his femur yesterday - are both unavailable. John Hopkins is in America and unable to get to Qatar in time and Nobuatsu Aoki is in Japan where travel is very difficult due the terrible earthquake and tsunami tragedy that struck his country last week. The Suzuki management also made tentative approaches to several Moto2 riders that have MotoGP experience, but none of these riders were available due to commitments to their respective teams for the first race of the season.

Hopkins will join the team for the next round of the season at Jerez in Spain as a replacement for Bautista - while the Spaniard continues on his road to recovery. Bautista is comfortable in hospital following the surgery to pin his left femur this morning and he plans to return to Spain early next week to begin his recuperation, with a view to being back in MotoGP as soon as possible.

Paul Denning, Team Manager Rizla Suzuki

“The 2011 season hasn’t yet started and to have this huge disappointment already is very difficult to deal with. The winter tests have been consistent and competitive, especially bearing in mind Álvaro’s ‘race-day’ mentality and his love of fighting with the other guys rather than just riding. We always expect more from him in the races than in the tests, so everything was looking good. The reason for the crash was quite simple - pushing too hard in this section without enough temperature in the new tyre – very similar to Rossi’s accident in Mugello last year. The real reasons behind that maybe was Álvaro was feeling some pressure after losing track time on Thursday night with the arm pump and wanting to get back into the top group of lap-times as soon as possible. Unfortunately Álvaro paid a heavy price.”

”This sport is very extreme and the edge between success and disaster is very small. We are all disappointed, but he is the poor guy in hospital with a pin in his femur and a tough recuperation ahead. He has the strength of character and determination to come back from this and on his behalf, we’d like to thank everybody for their kind wishes and support, especially the doctors and staff of the Clinica Mobile who came to the hospital at 2.00am last night to check on the situation and lend their valuable advice and assistance.”

“With regards to the Qatar GP, we really wanted to find a suitable rider and have the Rizla Suzuki on the grid tomorrow, but the logistics for John or Nobu simply didn’t allow it. Also, the Moto2 teams who have riders with MotoGP experience, that we discussed the option with, were understandably reluctant to release a rider at the first round of the championship. Our reason to explore these options was simply to support the Championship, Rizla and all our partners, but ultimately it is a huge ask to expect any rider to jump in only for qualifying and the race and expect too much. Safety and common sense have to play their part as well and we fully respect those decisions.”

“John isn’t happy with what happened to Álvaro, but I know he will do a solid job for us in Jerez and we are hoping to arrange a shakedown test beforehand. Álvaro’s comeback timing isn’t clear, and John has BSB commitments that clash with Estoril and Le Mans, so we need to wait a while before any decisions for those races are made.”

“Thanks to all Álvaro’s and the team’s well-wishers, we greatly appreciate it and we will do everything we can to recover quickly from this situation.”

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