Factory Suzuki rider John Hopkins has shunned an operation on his right wrist in the Easter break, admitting he will have to ride through the pain barrier for the entire 2007 MotoGP world championship campaign.
Doctors wanted the 23-year-old American to undergo surgery on a seriously damaged ligament in his right wrist, which was completely sheared away from the scaphoid bone when he crashed at 120mph during winter testing at Qatar on February 15.
Hopkins though has told MCN he will brave the pain for the remainder of the season having been told the recovery period from an operation to pin the ligament would be between six and 12 weeks.
That would have ruled him out of the Istanbul and Shanghai races at least, and the Rizla Suzuki rider has admitted the wrist won’t get a chance to heal naturally until the end of the season.
To recover 100 per cent without surgery, Hopkins has been told he’d need to completely immobilise his right arm for six weeks, which is impossible given the longest break in the MotoGP calendar is only three weeks.
“I can see the wrist being a hindrance for the rest of the year because the break is only three weeks. That’s just as long as the summer break so it’s not like it leaves me with an option to get surgery in the summer.
“Unless there is no movement or it’s immobile for six weeks then it’s just not going to heal perfectly. There’s a small crack in the scaphoid bone.
The 23-year-old said: “An operation would be more for the ligament because the ligament is sheared. The problem is I don’t have time to let it heal.
“Training and doing anything hinders it. Any recovery it made in between the crash and the first race at Qatar, the race pretty much ruined that.
“And any progress it made between Qatar and Jerez is pretty much ruined now. The crack will heal fine but it’s the soft tissue damage, “said Hopkins.
Hopkins said he would have been better off had he actually broken his wrist, as the healing process would have been much quicker.
“If I’d have broken a bone I’d have pinned it and been on my way. But the ligament is completely sheared so it’s trying to connect itself. As I said, immobilising it for six weeks is not an option.
“There’s no way I’m going to miss a race. The championship has got too many quick guys and there’s no way I can miss a race. That’s just not an option, “added Hopkins.
Hopkins said he expected to race with the wrist heavily taped in each of the remaining 16 races, but said he was relieved that the Spanish GP at Jerez was out of the way.
The fierce braking points at Jerez made the race excruciatingly painful for Hopkins before he crashed out of fourth place.
Hopkins added: “I’m probably going to have to tape it up for the rest of the year and deal with it. As far as the pain level I think Jerez was the hardest track I’m going to have to deal with.
“I’m completely content on dealing with the pain and taping it up has worked so far. After Jerez it was a little sore. The pain threshold goes down a lot when I’m doing nothing but Jerez is such a physical track on your upper body with all the stop and go and all the force and weight you need to hold yourself up.
“I actually felt worse after Jerez than I did after Qatar because there’s no real time just to relax in Jerez.”
Hopkins is hoping to reduce the amount of tape currently required to support the wrist when he arrives in Istanbul, as that proves restrictive when he’s riding Suzuki’s factory GSV-R 800.
“The tape supports the wrist but it makes it a lot harder on my forearm. When I twist the throttle there is a lot of restriction with the tape and it creates more arm pump.
“I’ve had the surgery for arm pump so that isn’t an issue but with less tape it will be less physical for me to ride, “said Hopkins, who finished fourth in the season’s opening race in Qatar.
Hopkins anticipates the stress and pain being easier to contend with when he returns to the track later this month for the Turkish GP at the impressive Istanbul Park circuit.
He added: “Istanbul will be more like Qatar as it’s not that physical so I don’t think it will be much of an issue. It’s flowing and no real hard braking in Turkey.
“At Jerez with the bumps and everything happening a bit quicker it was pretty painful. The gears there are a lot shorter and when you’ve got short gears it makes coming out of the corner an issue as well as it puts more force on my arms.
“With shorts gears it spins the rear tyre a lot quicker and starts pumping the rear so it puts more stress on the arms.”