Former World Superbike/MotoGP/British Superbike rider John Hopkins will make his return to competition in the 2014 British Superbike Championship with the Tyco Suzuki team. The American signed with the Northern Ireland-based squad after taking more than a year off to properly heal from injuries that hampered both his 2011 British Superbike title chase and his 2012 World Superbike campaign.
“Hopper” suffered through numerous complications with his right ring finger in 2011, enduring six surgeries and an infection in trying to fix an injury that occurred the year before, before finally opting to have the top of the finger amputated in January 2012. Things were looking good for his return to World Superbike with the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team, but a nasty highside in preseason testing at Phillip Island ended up fracturing the same hand two weeks before the season opener. He then crashed heavily at the fourth round of the championship at Monza, badly injuring a hip that had already been suffering problems from a crash back in 2009. Hopkins tried to come back, but the hip was proving too troublesome to ignore, and he was forced to withdraw from the final French round after realizing that it would be impossible for him to ride competitively. He then announced that he was taking a sabbatical from racing, and eventually underwent hip replacement surgery during that time.
Even with the problems with his hip and finger during 2011, Hopkins came within an eyelash of winning the British Superbike Championship in his first try, stunning the British riders with his ability to adapt to the racetracks and spec Pirelli tires. The title chase came down to the last lap of the last race of the season at Brands Hatch, where Hopkins lost out to Yamaha-mounted Tommy Hill by just 0.006 seconds.
“I’m really excited to be coming back to British Superbike in 2014 and delighted to be joining Tyco Suzuki,” said Hopkins. “It’s been a long year away from racing getting my body healthy. I’m feeling good and I’ve also become a brand-new dad (Hopkins and his wife Ashleigh celebrated the birth of daughter Everleigh on September 30). I feel better than I have in a lot of years and I’m really excited to be getting back out on track. I really feel like I’ve got a point to prove in the British Superbike Championship, so to say; I can’t wait to get out there on track and do some riding.”