Hopkins wants to go out on a high
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP has just one more race left on this year's MotoGP calendar as it makes its way to Valencia in Spain for the season finale.
John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen are locked in an individual Suzuki tussle for the honour
of the team's top rider this year with just four points separating the duo. They are also involved in a three-way battle for fourth in the championship with Marco Melandri, so the weekend holds extra spice as they both go for the best positions possible.
The team has enjoyed its best ever season since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP regulations and will certainly be looking to end the year on a high before testing for 2008 begins immediately after the event.
The Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia is traditionally the last race of the year and attracts a huge and colourful crowd, not just from Spain but all around the globe. The Valencian event is unique to the MotoGP calendar in that it is the only stadium track that the world's elite motorcycle racers compete on. Its 4.005km layout can be viewed from any of the grandstands and the capacity crowd that will fill the arena will be able to see all the action no matter where they are seated.
Valencia will also see the last competitive outing of Hopkins in Suzuki colours. The Anglo-American star has been with Suzuki since 2003 and Sunday will be his 81st race for the Japanese Factory Team.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to the track on Friday for two free practice sessions, with a third on the Saturday morning. Hopkins and Vermeulen will then be going all-out in the afternoon's qualifying session to secure the best grid positions for Sunday's 30-lap race, which gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (13.00hrs GMT).
“This is going to be an emotional weekend for me, but I won't let that distract me from what I've got to do.
I want to finish as high as I can in the championship and be the number one Suzuki rider for this year. I want to go out on a real high and give my crew and Suzuki a big thank-you for everything they have done for me. Valencia is a special place with an amazing atmosphere and I would love to be the one who sets off the fireworks at the end of the race!”
“There is still plenty to do this season and it is important for me, the team and Suzuki to finish as well as we possibly can at Valencia. I had a bit of bad luck in the race last year and ran off, when I felt I was going quite well. We got some testing after the race and it is a track I really enjoy so I am looking forward to going back there. Although this is the last race of 2007, it is also a step on the road to what we can achieve next year and we must work as hard as we can here and not just wait for the testing to start.”