“I’ve always believed in my talent, but for multiple reasons — personal life choices and just certain situations — it’s diverted from being able to really show what I think I can do,” Hopkins said. “And so I knew when I had my wrist back and things started coming together at the end of last year, the last thing I wanted to do is retire. I finally got my personal life back; I felt extremely good and more focused than I’d been in my entire life. And that’s why I invested,” said Hopkins about putting $50,000 into the Crescent Suzuki team before Samsung came onboard, guaranteeing him as second rider to Jon Kirkham. “It was a huge risk putting that money in…because where I was at financially it would’ve made more sense securing myself a normal job where I had an income at least, because I wasn’t getting paid. I had my personal sponsors come in and pay some money. But I paid for the ride, basically, and we put together a really good bonus program if I were to get on the podium.
Although he already has offers...
Although he already has offers from World Superbike teams, Hopkins admits that a return to MotoGP is his ultimate goal. “I still think the best riders in the world are in MotoGP. And if you want to be the best, you have to race the best.”
“I can say honestly right now, I feel like I’m riding better at the moment than I did back in ’07 when I felt like I rode at my best to get on the podium in Valencia. I feel way more focused. I believe I’m riding a lot better now because I feel like I’ve got a second chance. I’m not doing anything to take it for granted. Everything I do is fully focused towards the sport and trying to achieve my goals of getting back to MotoGP, basically. So now that I have this second chance, I’m just trying not to — I still make mistakes — but trying not to take anything for granted and just doing everything I can.”
Hopkins knows getting back to MotoGP will be difficult. Rides are sparse and Suzuki’s future in MotoGP is uncertain. Hopkins has no interest in being a grid filler on one of the proposed Claiming Rule Teams. “No, no, no,” he said. “I’m not going to put myself into the position where I will have to override the bike to achieve points or a decent result. I don’t think that would be, at this stage, beneficial to my career. I want to give myself a chance to win championships and races.”
Despite being a rookie foreigner...
Despite being a rookie foreigner in the British Superbike Championship, Hopkins has already garnered numerous fans in the UK for his aggressive riding style.
If MotoGP doesn’t happen, Hopkins has a list of World Superbike offers, “so I definitely want to be in a world championship. No question. I still consider World Superbike as a steppingstone for where I want to go,” which is MotoGP. “I still think the best riders in the world are in MotoGP. That’s always been where my heroes are and everything. That’s just the premier for me mentally…the best racers in the world are in MotoGP. And if you want to be the best, you have to race the best.” sr