John Hopkins has hailed the development of electronics in MotoGP as he prepares to make a shock premier class comeback in Spain this weekend.
The American will ride injured Alvaro Bautista's factory Suzuki GSV-R in the Jerez MotoGP race while the Spaniard is sidelined with a broken femur he suffered during practice for the recent opening round in Qatar.
Hopkins hasn't raced in MotoGP since the end of 2008 following an injury-ravaged campaign with Kawasaki.
But you have to go all the way back to the final race of 2007 in Valencia for the last time he rode a GSV-R in competition.
Hopkins did ride the 2011 GSV-R in Qatar recently when he helped Bautista out with some promotional filming work. He was then given an eight-lap run by the team on new tyres to push harder and get more of a feel for the V4 machine at speeds closer to race pace.
And he said one major improvement on the bike he rode to fourth in the MotoGP world championship in '07 was electronics.
Traction control and anti-wheelie have come on leaps and bounds according to Hopkins, who told MCN: "The traction control is working when you don't even feel it. You don't even really hear it working but it is almost impossible to get it sideways and slide. During the eight-laps I did in Qatar we changed it around and made a small difference. We took out some of the electronics at the beginning of the opening of the throttle so I could spin it up and turn it more with the throttle.
It is so refined and accurate now. We never had that in the past. If we wanted to take off a little bit at the start of throttle opening it would end up changing the whole way the bike reacted when you opened the throttle. The wheelie control is a huge factor too. It won't lift at all. It doesn't cut the power and throw the front wheel on the groud but if it comes up six inches it will stay there while still driving."
For a full interview with Hopkins, see the March 30 issue of MCN.