I am now ready to go to Jerez
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins battled to a superb fourth place at today's Qatar Grand Prix, missing out on a place on the podium by only half a second.
Anglo-American Hopkins has been suffering all weekend with the after-effects
of a heavy crash at Qatar last month, but he overcame the pain to equal his best-ever MotoGP result. He got off to a good start and consolidated his sixth place starting position in the early laps.
Hopkins then moved up the field to third place at one point setting one of the fastest laps of the race in the process where he then became involved in a race long battle with Dani Pedrosa. Although Hopkins tried to make an overtaking manoeuvre on the last lap, he was unable to get past Pedrosa and had to settle for fourth.
Chris Vermeulen had an equally impressive race finishing in seventh after starting back on the fifth row in 13th place. He got relegated back to 16th on the first lap, but fought his way up the field to record valuable points for himself and the Team.
Today's race was held in warm and sunny conditions with track temperatures reaching 45°C. Australian Casey Stoner took victory on his Bridgestone-shod Ducati.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP now travels back to Europe for the second round of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship at Jerez in Spain on Sunday 25th March.
I am really happy with the way the race went after coming to this event in quite a bit of pain.
I was never sure how I'd ride or even if I'd ride! I got off to a good start but lost a couple of places on the first few laps, I soon got them back and from there on I just tried to keep myself up towards the front. It was important not to lose any positions, but unfortunately Rossi and Stoner had a great pace and it was difficult to keep up with them. I stayed with Pedrosa and pushed him all the way till the end. I tried to get past him on the last lap but he's so little he gets out of the corners so quick that I just couldn't get past him! I've got to say thanks to the Team Physio Dean Miller and my trainer Johnny Louch for getting me fit enough to race here this weekend. It was also great to have my Mum here and my girlfriend Ashleigh, as they both helped me cope with the injury well. I am now ready to go to Jerez and hope to take that step up onto the podium!
It was a difficult race starting so far back and I ran wide on the first turn and lost some more places. I started to get through the field even though it's not easy to pass on this track. I had a lot of work to do and was passing people quite hard and pushing the front tyre, which might have used the tyre up a bit too much early on, but I had to get past! In the end I was trying to catch some quick guys and just couldn't get up to them. I ended up seventh which was obviously a lot better than last year, but we still have a lot to do. The plan is now to go to Jerez and win, but irrespective if we can go there and improve on this position it will be a good result.
Paul Denning Team Manager:
It has been a great day's work by the Team, by Suzuki and by Bridgestone. John did everything and more that we wanted of him and I am sure he would have loved to have been on that podium. He had a good go on the last lap, but it wasn't going to happen without a massive risk and it was good to see him show maturity and bring the bike and himself home safely.
Chris has had a difficult weekend but showed what an asset he is by bringing the bike from 16th on the first lap to a very creditable seventh. That result will give him great confidence for the next few races and when he improves on his qualifying positions I am sure he will be challenging right up there.
I guess today's result and the potential we have shown demonstrates how far we have come since the race here last year. It's a solid start to this season and we are really looking forward to getting to Jerez and carrying on with the good work.