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John Hopkins will make his MotoGP comeback this year, as the American returns to Suzuki as a reserve rider after racing for the squad within the top echelon of motorcycle racing between 2003 and 2007. Despite not having a full-time ride, Hopkins will be on hand to replace Álvaro Bautista if an injury or unforeseen circumstance arises.
Hopkins competed in 114 races during his time in the sport, contesting five seasons for the Suzuki team. Despite not making the top step of the rostrum, the 27-year-old registered four podium finishes, all coming in the 2007 season. With Hopkins racing full-time in the upcoming British Superbike Championship, his new role is initially set to entail some on-track media work at the upcoming Qatar test.
"John won’t be doing the full test in Qatar, he will be doing some riding on the bike to help us out with some PR and filming work," Denning explained to MotoGP.com. "That will give him the opportunity to do some laps and get a feel for the bike, and he will be there at the test in case we need him. We’re not sure whether we’re going to need him during the test or not.
"With only one rider we’ve got to think carefully about a back-up plan, in case something goes wrong. We’re obviously very much hoping that we don’t have to call on it at any point, because we’re putting everything behind Álvaro and that’s the priority.
"But we have an obligation to Suzuki, to Rizla and to all the team’s partners to be at all the races so we do need to have a plan. John is available, he’s got experience and he’s fit and focused, and so he would seem to be the right man to do that job."
Denning added that Hopkins is unlikely to become Suzuki’s second rider in 2011 however, with no current plans for another bike to be prepared and raced by the outfit.
"There are no plans like that at the moment. Should something develop it could be considered, but at the moment it’s not in the plan," he summed up.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
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|Rizla Suzuki MotoGP|
|18 Nov '11||Suzuki pulls out but plans 2014 comeback|
|9 Nov '11||Bautista moves from Suzuki to Gresini for 2012|
|8 Nov '11||De Puniet tests for Suzuki in Valencia|
|29 Sep '11||Hopkins returning to Suzuki for Malaysia|
|13 Aug '11||Hopkins 'devastated' after withdrawal|
|22 Jul '11||Hopkins to return to Suzuki at Brno|
|20 Mar '11||Hopkins to race for Suzuki at Jerez|
|10 Feb '11||Hopkins rejoins Suzuki as reserve rider|
|1 Feb '10||Suzuki extends Rizla partnership|
|13 Nov '12||Bautista tops test as Rossi returns to Yamaha|
|27 Aug '12||Gresini hoping to retain Bautista|
|16 Dec '11||Pins removed from Bautista’s leg|
|19 Jun||Video: Márquez reflects on rise to MotoGP|
|18 Jun||Video: Jorge Lorenzo's "graffiti" helmet|
|18 Jun||De Puniet buoyed by Suzuki test showing|