John Hopkins targets World Superbike wins

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John Hopkins is confident he will be fighting for victories in World Superbikes having finally signed a deal with the Stiggy Honda squad.

The 25-year-old will try and rebuild his career in World Superbikes having been frozen out of MotoGP following Kawasaki’s shock decision in January to quit because of the worldwide credit crunch.

Hopkins, who will make his race debut for Stiggy Honda in Valencia on April 5, has backed himself to be an immediate success in the ultra-competitive WSB series.

Boosted by new team-mate Leon Haslam’s opening round podium in Phillip Island, Australia, Hopkins believes the Honda FireBlade and Stiggy Honda squad have the potential to help him fight with the likes of Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga.

“Right from the start, in the first race, Leon showed that the bike could be put on the podium. The Stiggy Racing Honda has already proved that it is competitive and I would just like to adapt to it as quickly as possible.

“I want to be able to run at the front right from the get-go. My goal is to accumulate as many wins and podiums as possible.

“I am looking forward to the experience and riding all the new tracks,“ said the Californian, who had a torrid and injury-hit campaign on Kawasaki’s struggling factory ZX-RR in 2008.

Hopkins said he was relishing the prospect of renewing rivalry with former MotoGP foes like Max Biaggi and Carlos Checa, but he was just excited to be part of the WSB arena.

So far in 2009, World Superbikes has been fascinating with rookie Spies winning three of the first four races.

Hopkins said: “I am really excited to get back out on the track and have nothing but good expectations. I have been watching SBK over the past few years and the series is always very exciting.

“Each year, it keeps growing and growing and drawing more and more attention. The racing seems a lot tighter than in MotoGP. The machines seem more evenly matched so, all and all, I am just really excited to get started.

“So far this season, Ben Spies and Nori Haga have shown their abilities to run at the front and their championship intentions. I believe the bike, the team and myself have every capability of running at the front and dicing with the leaders.

WStarting from the 3rd race in, we will be at an obvious disadvantage in the points, but I am just going to put my head down and work my way to the front.”

Meanwhile, the Stiggy Honda squad has confirmed that Hopkins’ crew chief will be
Kor Veldman.

He previously worked with Hopkins’ former Suzuki MotoGP team-mate Chris Vermeulen and Carlos Checa for the Ten Kate Honda squad.

He was also part of James Toseland’s team when the British rider captured his second WSB crown for Ten Kate in 2007.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt