Hopkins to replace Smrz for remainder of 2015

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John Hopkins will replace Jakub Smrz at Moto Rapido Ducati for the remainder of the 2015 MCE British Superbike season. The news comes as expected, after the American made impressive progress with the Panigale after his two wildcard rides replacing the Czech rider.

Denied not one but two podiums at the weekend at Thruxton after first mechanical failure and then a crash, the former MotoGP runner-up says that he’s delighted with the news after immediately falling in love with the bike.

"I have definitely been enjoying myself with the team and there is a great atmosphere; for me it has been fantastic to come in straight away and show what we are capable of. I haven't enjoyed myself on a bike this much in a long time and this opportunity is what I have been waiting for, especially after the frustrating start of the year when I had to watch everyone else testing and racing.

"I bided my time and it has paid off because I wanted to come back with a team and package that I knew had the potential to be at the front and I think everything happens for a reason. I can't deny that I feel bad for Kuba because he is a great rider and I am sure he will be back soon, but I had to grasp this opportunity and I couldn't give it up.

Smrz, however, who badly broke his thumb in a Snetterton practice crash, says that he understands the pressures and politics of the sport, and has taken the news on the chin.

"Racing does not always go the direction you want and I understand and respect the decision of the team. It´s been a hard start to the season and very unlucky for me and the team. In the moment when things started to work perfectly and I could finally fight for podiums, I got injured.

"Of course I'm not happy to finish now and that it's not me to benefit from the hard development work we´ve done, but I wish good luck to Moto Rapido and John. Now I will continue my fitness preparation and hopefully I can be back on a race bike soon."

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer