“I knew he’d get there at some point, just not that quick!”

Hopkins’ Americas GP thoughts, Edwards on life after racing, Crafar insight and getting to know Sasaki – all on this weeks’ MotoGP™ Podcast

Alex Rins and Team Suzuki Ecstar produced a stunner in Texas and on this weeks’ edition of the MotoGP™ Podcast, hosts Matt Dunn and Fran Wyld speak to former Suzuki rider John Hopkins about his thoughts on the Americas GP.

“How many surprises did that race bring up? Just completely unexpected,” says Hopkins, reciprocating what most of us were thinking after watching the events at the Circuit of the Americas unfold. “Going into the course of the weekend, I thought Marquez was going to run away with it, take off, clear off and the race was going to be for second. With Rossi coming from behind like he has done in the past, I expected him to be in second and then it even possibly just being a race for third. But obviously, MotoGP™ being the way it is this year it threw up such great surprises. The main one being of course, Suzuki.”

The American rode for Suzuki in the premier class from 2003-2007, his most prolific season coming in 2007 when teammate Chris Vermeulen took the Hamamatsu factory’s first MotoGP™ era win, a feat that wouldn’t be replicated until Maverick Viñales took top honours at Silverstone in 2016.

“What an awesome ride by Rins,” continues ‘Hopper’. “Perfectly calculated, he made the pass at the opportune time in my eyes and honestly I didn’t see it happening from around half race distance just because he seemed to be struggling a little bit with the horsepower and acceleration on the Yamaha. He just seemed to be down slightly but he made the pass at the perfect place in the tight section where Rossi wasn’t obviously going to be able to drive straight past him afterwards.

“Being on a bike that I’ve ridden in the past that has been underpowered, that’s always the place you want to try and make a pass… it’s a place where they’re not going to be able to come back by you instantly on the horsepower and under acceleration and he was able to hold onto his lead. Obviously, Rossi went for that big lunge and unfortunately I think that cost him the race but Rins just kept it upright and came away with the win which is awesome for Suzuki. It’s so great to see them back on the top step of the podium. All the guys in the garage are over the moon and they have every right to be.”

Hopkins then pays homage to the Suzuki’s strength: its handling. And the American is adamant Rins is the man take the blue machine to the top: “The Suzuki has always been a competitive bike. It’s always been there or there abouts and I honestly think it’s one of the best handling bikes within the paddock. I get that quote from every rider that seems to come onto it. Even the newer ones, the younger ones, the rookies, everyone seems to be able to adapt quite well to it. Even back in 2010/11 when Bautista was riding the Suzuki, he was always there or there abouts and quite competitive on it. It’s got a really good chassis and they’re just working their way ever so closely to bring it right there at the tip top every race.

“I think Rins, I said it in qualifying funnily enough, really is the man for the job. I think he has the package to do it and the talent to do it but it’s just a matter of ‘when’. He’s got to have the opportunity and time to do it. And obvious ‘when’ is ‘now’… the perfect call. I didn’t expect it right away, I knew he’d get there at some point but just not that quick!”

Listen to more of what Hopkins had to say in Episode 10 of the MotoGP™ Podcast. In addition, you’ll also hear interviews with two-time WorldSBK Champion, former Grand Prix rider and BT Sport pundit Colin Edwards on life after racing, and what it’s like making the transition from rider to TV. You’ll also be able to listen to a chat with Petronas Sprinta Racing’s Ayumu Sasaki about his journey to Moto3™, and how he’d never watched MotoGP™ before competing in the Asia Talent Cup. This, plus insight of COTA from Simon Crafar, will make for great listening.

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