American John Hopkins announced he is taking a sabbatical from racing for 2013 to recover from a number of significant injuries.
Hopkins’ once very promising racing career has been hampered by both a series of bad luck and injury. It seems so long ago that Hopkins finished fourth overall in the 2007 MotoGP Championship with Suzuki. When the only people who finished ahead of him were Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi, he had to be doing something right.
After one more season with Suzuki Hopkins moved on to the Kawasaki factory team, racing for one season before the manufacturer pulled out of MotoGP. That led Hopkins to World Superbikes where he raced an injury-filled 2009 season for Stiggy Honda that ended with the team also folding at the end of the year.
The Ramona, Calif., native revived his career with a second-overall finish in the 2011 British Superbike Championship, exploring options for a return to MotoGP before reuniting with Suzuki and longtime team manager and supporter Paul Denning for the 2012 WSBK season.
This year started off with the loss of the tip of his right ring finger following multiple surgeries and a serious infection, followed by a crash during pre-season testing a month later, injuring the same right hand. Hopkins returned to action at the April 1 round at Imola, but the comeback lasted was brief before Hopkins injured his hip in a high-side crash at the Monza round in May.
The injury from Monza affected Hopkins the rest of the season, leading to the decision to not race in 2013.
“I have really struggled with my hip since the crash at Monza and I know that it is a priority to get my health sorted before I can even think about racing again,” says Hopkins. “I didn’t want to pledge myself to the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team for 2013 and then not be able to give 100% because the injury is a constant worry, so although this is a difficult decision it is the correct one.”
Hopkins will return home to the U.S. for evaluation with hip surgery a very strong possibility. If he does go under the knife, it would mark the 30th operation of Hopkins’ racing career. To provide perspective on that number, Hopkins won’t turn 30 until next May. Despite the numerous setbacks he has encountered in his career, Hopkins says he still has the fire to keep racing.
“If that is a hip replacement or something similar, then that is what I am prepared to do to make sure I can get my health and fitness back. At the moment the injury is influencing everything I do in my home, personal and racing life, so I need to get it sorted out properly,” says Hopkins. “I still have the desire and passion to race against the world’s best riders but every time I have pumped myself up to go for it this season, the hip has quickly and painfully reminded me that I need to be careful – and that’s no way to go racing.”
Denning, who has been Hopkins’ team manager in MotoGP, British Superbikes and WSBK, remains supportive, promising Hopkins at least a chance to test a bike for his next comeback.
“John needs to get himself fully healthy, allow his body to recover in the proper timescales and refresh his mind from the constant pain caused by these injuries. He’s been racing at the top level since he was 16 years old, and it’s time to give himself the chance to recover,” says Denning. “If, following that process, John feels motivated and ready to return to racing he knows he only has to call and we’ll be at the track straight away with a bike for him to test. On behalf of the whole Crescent Suzuki family – thank you John and we really hope that 2013 is the beginning of a great future.”