MotoGP exile John Hopkins has signed a deal to race for the Stiggy Honda World Superbike team, as was first reported by MCN four months ago.
The 25-year-old, who was left without a ride following Kawasaki's shock withdrawal from MotoGP on January 9, ended a nightmare winter by confirming he will debut a Stiggy Honda CBR1000RR in Valencia on April 5. His deal with the Stiggy Honda squad is for the remainder of 2009 and he will continue to be supported by Monster Energy Drink.
Hopkins plans to complete his first test on the FireBlade in Almeria next week before his debut in Valencia for Johan Stigefelt’s squad, which runs British rider Leon Haslam and experienced Italian Roberto Rolfo.
The former factory Suzuki rider recently reached an amicable settlement with Kawasaki as Hopkins was under contract to race a factory ZX-RR for 2009. He was to partner Italian Marco Melandri when Kawasaki quit because of the global economic crisis.
The decision piled on the misery for the Californian, who had a torrid and injury-hit debut season with Kawasaki last year. He was only able to finish 16th in the final standings having ended fourth in the first year of the 800cc era on Suzuki’s factory GSV-R, He will now attempt to re-build his career in World Superbikes and Hopkins said:
"Kawasaki and I worked it out where both parties left the relationship happy, and I am thankful to Kawasaki for letting me ride their bikes and race in their program. I’m excited about racing in the 2009 season and solely putting my focus on moving forward."
His addition is another massive boost for series boss Paolo Flammini.
The opening two races of 2009 have been fascinating, not least because of the instant impact made by Ben Spies on Yamaha’s stunning new R1.
Can Hopkins make the FireBlade a WSB winner? Post a comment below.