Hopkins on the pace but out of luck in Qatar

2007-02-15 12:44

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer John Hopkins set the pace early on during the concluding day of the Official MotoGP Test in Qatar, but a heavy crash just before lunch curtailed his involvement and saw him taken to hospital for x-rays.

Hopkins had - up until his accident - clocked the day's fastest time of 1'55.825 testing new Bridgestone qualifying tyres. Following his crash, he was taken to the Doha hospital where his injuries have been assessed. He has suspected fractures in his right hand and foot. As soon as we have more information we will post it on www.rizla-suzuki-motogp.co.uk but the team are hopeful that he will be able to attend next week's test in Spain.

Hopkins had been smooth and consistent throughout the three day test and was looking extremely quick this morning. He conducted many geometry setting tests throughout the three days, as well as a full race distance run to assess the durability of the new generation Bridgestone race tyres designed especially for the demanding 5.3km Losail International Circuit. Hopkins' time today gave him second place overall on the timesheets behind Dani Pedrosa on his factory Honda.

Chris Vermeulen continued with his disciplined test routine as he set about getting the best from the GSV-R800 at this desert track. He constantly improved on his times over the three days. His best time of 1'57.365, set on race tyres, was almost a second and a half quicker than his best race lap at last year's Qatar Grand Prix aboard the 990cc machine.

Vermeulen was unable to test qualifying tyres today, but would almost certainly have been higher up the timesheets if he had. Both he and his team believe there is a lot more to come from the new 800 and will be looking to further enhance the development of the bike during next week's test.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP travels back to Europe next week for the second Official MotoGP Test at Jerez in Spain. This will be the final test before the 2007 MotoGP season kicks off with the first round in Qatar on Saturday 10th March.

John Hopkins:

"I'm feeling pretty beat up at the moment - a 120mph high-side does that to you! I've got bruises on all four limbs and a couple of broken bones. I'm flying straight back to England to see a specialist first thing tomorrow, and then we'll know a bit more about the injuries. It was a sad way to end the test because we had made good progress here. I am quite happy with the way the three days went and we got through everything we needed to before the crash. I'm sure we'll be in a good position when we come back here in about three weeks and I'll certainly be at the first race - just try and stop me!"

Chris Vermeulen:

"We made a lot of progress over the three day test in the engine, chassis and tyre areas. I did a race distance run of 22 laps today and although we are still looking for a little bit more speed we are certainly in a much stronger position now than we were 12 months ago. The track temperatures dropped this afternoon so I didn't get the chance to test some qualifying tyres, but we have got John's information on them so that's good. I would like to pass on my best wishes to John, obviously he had a big crash today and I hope he's alright and will be back riding at Jerez. He did a lot of good work here and we hope he is fully fit soon."

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"Overall this has been a really positive test for the whole team with the exception of what happened to John today. We have run full race distances with both riders and the bikes have given us 100% consistency. Chris never got the chance to run qualifiers, but John did this morning and he was extremely quick. The durability of the Bridgestone tyres has been very good which is great - Qatar has always been a difficult track to get the tyre choice right. We are very pleased to be as close to the pace as we are and there is still a bit more to find to run right at the front.

"John has had some x-rays here and he has possible fractures to his hand and foot. We will know more on Monday because the swelling in his hand was too much to get a clear indication of what he has done. Once he has been assessed we will know whether he will be at Jerez for the test next week.

"The whole team worked really hard here and the two riders were again fantastic. The dedication shown by all team members and the fitness levels of the two guys has been great throughout the whole test season, and, despite this small set back for John, we are looking more and more ready to take that next step up every time we go out on track!"

Overall Unofficial Lap Times:

1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1'55.471: 2. JOHN HOPKINS (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 1'55.825: 3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1'55.954: 4. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1'56.296; 5. Alex Hofmann (Ducati) 1'56.315: 15. CHRIS VERMEULEN (RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP) 1'57.365:

Source: Team Suzuki Press Office

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