Hopper over the moon at Cartagena test

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John Hopkins was running out of adjectives to describe how much he liked his new ePayMe Yamaha R1 after the opening day of testing at Cartagena.

It was the first time the American had thrown his leg over his 2016 mount and he was beaming with happiness as he chatted to team boss Tommy Hill at the end of the first day’s action. “I have absolutely fallen in love with this Yamaha.” He smiled. “Just seeing the R1 out on track at the end of the 2015 season, I always thought that it could suit my riding style quite well. I was eager to get my hands on it and fortunately that option came around. I couldn’t be happier.

He was on the pace right away in spite of not having ridden since the last race of 2015 at Brands Hatch. “We have done limited laps today because we are making minor changes. There have been red flags too but I’ve already gone as quick as I’ve ever gone at Cartagena.” the 32 year old said.

The last time Hopper rode a Yamaha was in MotoGP in 2002 on a 500cc two stroke so his praise of the R1 is impressive coming from a man who has raced some very special motorbikes in his career. “The bike feels like a proper race bike.” Hopkins explained. “The chassis is very rigid, I can see how it catches some riders out because you feel everything. The only thing I can compare it to is the MotoGP bikes I have ridden which are very stiff so you feel every inch of the circuit. It turns on a dime too but the most important thing is the engine and its driveability and smoothness into the corners and out.”

Hopkins sees this as a potential big advantage come race day. “The Yamaha is able to conserve the tyre because you can get the bike picked up out of the corner and on to the throttle very smoothly without burning the tyre. It's one of the biggest positives.” he explained. “Over the next three days we will be building on where we are but right now we are over the moon!”  

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Stephen Davison

By Stephen Davison

Biographer of John McGuinness & road racing's foremost writer & photographer