More often than not the British...
More often than not the British Superbike Championship races are run in wet weather, but Hopkins has adapted well, usually running near the front in wet or dry conditions.
He reverted to an old habit of overriding a bad bike and suffering the consequences. Hopkins broke his hip and shattered his femur at Assen. Then he came back only to crash at the Nürburgring and get knocked unconscious for 16 minutes, suffering a massive contusion to his brain. That put him out for the rest of the year.
At the end of the season he went to Portimao and “ended up partying the whole weekend and just completely making an ass of myself in front of the majority of the paddock in World Superbike,” he remembers. “I basically just decided right there, ‘This is enough. My life is s**t and I need to get on track.’ I quit drinking and that was the last time.” Finally sober, he decided to begin the road back where it all began: in the U.S.
The ride in the U.S. with the Monster M4 Suzuki team would be a mixed blessing. Team owner John Ulrich was a father figure to Hopkins and mentored him throughout his career. Ulrich was responsible for Hopkins’ early AMA rides as well as getting him a tryout on the Red Bull Yamaha WCM team that launched his GP career. But the season wouldn’t go smoothly and would end with the pair parting as bitter enemies.
Hopkins has taken the British...
Hopkins has taken the British Superbike Championship by storm, learning the notoriously tricky UK racing circuits quickly, taking pole position at a number of races and winning several against seasoned competitors.
“I was just living in a false reality,” Hopkins said of trying to race with the wrist he’d originally broken in Qatar three years earlier, and then reinjured in the Nürburgring crash. “It was purely bone on bone. There was no ligament, no cartilage, nothing left. So when I did the deal (with M4 Suzuki) I honestly thought my wrist would loosen up and just never bothered to get it checked.” Hopkins made it through the first three races of the season before the pain got so unbearable that there was no option but surgery. Unfortunately, that surgery (and a minor operation earlier in the season) forced him to miss a total of four out of nine AMA events during the season, angering Ulrich.
The M4 team owner slammed Hopkins on the WERA bulletin boards. “I didn’t even know there was anything wrong with him until after the AMA Pro race weekend at Fontana when he told CU (Chris Ulrich) he was getting what turned out to be the first of two mid-season wrist surgeries,” wrote Ulrich. “I did a good-faith deal with him based on being told that he was in the same condition as he was when he was getting on MotoGP podiums in 2007. I thought he was ready to win AMA Pro Superbike races in 2010. That’s not how it turned out and I won’t be working with him again.”
Hopkins subbed at the Jerez...
Hopkins subbed at the Jerez GP for the injured Alvaro Bautista (right), Suzuki’s sole MotoGP rider who was injured at the season opener in Qatar. Hopkins finished a very credible 10th despite not having ridden a current MotoGP bike or tires.
According to Hopkins however, the M4 team’s Monster Energy sponsorship that year was because of his $400,000 contract with the energy drink firm, and they “obviously weren’t going to pay me to just sit on my ass at home and do nothing, so they kept the deal alive by giving me the money and I forfeited every ounce of it to the team — the entire $400,000 — so we could have a deal set and they could supply me with an extra Superbike. (Ulrich) got his money and then he claimed like he didn’t get any money, which is crap. He got every ounce of the money, plus the bonuses at the end of the year. He got podiums for the first time in Superbikes for his team and stuff. I thought, everything considered, it was a decent deal.” (Editor's note: Ulrich counters that the costs involved with building the bikes, hiring extra personnel, redoing the semi's exterior and all personnel uniforms for the Monster sponsorship, plus Hopkins' manager taking his cut, basically wiped out the money and then some. "I lost money when the whole thing was said and done," said Ulrich.
Hopkins accepts that he could’ve handled the situation better. “OK, maybe I should’ve been seen (by a doctor) before the year, but I didn’t. It was probably because I was more fearful of what the result might be. So, yeah, I guess it could’ve been my fault.”