American John Hopkins has secured his place on the 2017 BSB grid after signing a new deal to return to the Moto Rapido Ducati team for the forthcoming season.
The Californian, who has previously been a MotoGP podium finisher, came tantalisingly close to lifting the 2011 BSB crown in one of the most memorable season finales in history. ‘Hopper’ missed out on the crown to Tommy Hill by just 0.006s at Brands Hatch making it the closest ever championship title decider and is now gunning to be back in contention in 2017.
Hopkins had his first taste of the Ducati in 2015 when he joined the Winchester-based Ducati dealership run team mid-way through the season. He then went on to score the first ever podium finish for the Ducati Panigale R in the Championship as the team scored their first top three finish at Brands Hatch.
Hopkins said: “To be back with the Moto Rapido team and on the Ducati again is something I am really so excited about. I enjoyed last season but I never felt as comfortable on the Yamaha as I did the first time I rode the Ducati in 2015. It’s such a great bike to ride and it really suits my riding style; I certainly hadn’t had as much fun riding motorcycles in a while until I had my first laps on the Panigale in 2015.
“I love this team and they were always one of my first choices for the new season. We had a podium finish together in 2015 and I know that they have come on leaps and bounds with the development since then. During my time with them previously there were several occasions when we were in guaranteed podium finishing positions until we had some minor technical problems because so much was so new, but now this bike is the complete package.
“My hopes are extremely high for next season and it is going to be one of the most competitive seasons ever I feel. We say it every year, but with so many riders from the World Championship on the grid, some new riders and some of the established contenders it is a stacked field of world class riders for sure. Our aim and focus is to go testing and then be there right from the start.”