John Hopkins has undergone successful surgery on the left leg injuries that will keep him out for at least the next two races, including his home race at Laguna Seca.
The factory Kawasaki rider will definitely miss this weekend’s German GP at the Sachsenring and is also out of his home race in California a week later, with Hopkins targeting a return to action in Brno on August 17 after the summer break.
Hopkins suffered multiple left leg injuries when he crashed during qualifying for last month’s Dutch GP in Assen. He collided feet first with a trackside advertising banner at 140mph.
X-rays of his injured left leg at the circuit medical centre revealed that Hopkins had sustained a fracture to the bottom of his tibia and that he had reopened a previous fracture, the result of a crash earlier in his racing career.
The x-rays also showed a fracture to the lateral malleolus, which is one of the bones at the top of the ankle.
Hopkins had a further medical examination by Dr. Art Ting on his return to America last week. In addition to confirming the previously diagnosed fractures, a bone scan of the injured left leg also revealed a tibial plateau fracture just below the knee, and damage to the meniscus (cartilage), which was causing Hopkins' knee joint to lock.
Hopkins underwent successful surgery in Los Angeles yesterday to reset the bones in his ankle. During the operation, the meniscus in his left knee was also repaired and attached to the bone using keyhole surgery techniques.
As a result of the surgery Hopkins will not be able to bear any weight on his damaged left leg for three weeks, after which he will undergo extensive rehabilitation therapy, with a full recovery from his injuries expected to take between six to eight weeks in total.
Kawasaki team boss Michael Bartholemy, currently in Japan formulating final plans for 2009, said: "I am sorry for John, as I know he was looking forward to racing in front of his home crowd at Laguna Seca, where he always enjoys a lot of support.
"But it's just not possible; he has had surgery to fix the injuries he sustained at Assen, and now he needs sufficient recovery time to ensure that he's fully fit before he makes his racing return.
"Obviously we are hoping that this return will come at the Czech Republic Grand Prix, but we will be monitoring John's recovery very closely and we have no intention of putting him back on the bike before he's ready.
"If this means he doesn't race at Brno, then that's how it will be, because we don't want to risk making things worse by allowing him to return before he is fully recovered.
"Now we know the full extent of John's injuries we are looking at the possibility of running a replacement rider at Laguna Seca. We will make a further announcement about this ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix."
British rider Chaz Davies is a contender for the vacant ZX-RR ride, but Kawasaki America’s preferred option is for Jamie Hacking to make his MotoGP debut in Laguna at the age of 37.