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MCE BSB returnee Hopkins gets set for title assault

Thursday, February 06 2014

John Hopkins makes his much anticipated return to the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship this season and the Tyco Suzuki star is now looking ahead to the team's first test as he prepares to embark on his quest for the title, which kicks off at Brands Hatch on 18-21 April.

Hopkins is continuing his pre-season build up at home in California after taking time out of racing to recover from previous injuries and the former MotoGP ace admits he has never been better.

"Things are coming along really good for the start of the season," he said. "It's just a matter of getting back on a road race bike real soon now, my fitness is great and my hip is better than it has been in years, probably since at least 2008 or 2009."

Hopkins' time away from the track is certainly something that won't faze him and he is determined to come back and fight for the title that he narrowly missed out on in 2011 by just 0.006 seconds in the final race of the season to eventual champion Tommy Hill.

"It's going to be a little bit strange riding at first as I haven't been on a road race bike for quite some time," he added. "I haven't been on a bike competitively for over a year, but I do know the circuits now. I had no knowledge back in 2011 of the circuits and some of the British ones can be quite quirky with blind corners in a lot of places. Having that track knowledge alone this year is going to work to my advantage, but I'm under no illusions - it's certainly going to be difficult.

"I think it's going to be a good year. I still feel that I have a point to prove in BSB after coming so close to winning the championship there in 2011. It definitely weighed on me a little bit afterwards, so there's no doubt about the fact that I'd like to go out and clinch the championship this year with Tyco Suzuki. There is some strong competition out there for sure, but I think the Suzuki is very capable and a perfectly able bike to go and win the championship on. That's my goal to win the championship.

"I think we had the approach right on in 2011, but we had a couple of small mechanical failures and we were working on some stuff with electronics back then, that I know we won't suffer the same mistakes with in 2014. I know that being with a factory-supported team in Tyco Suzuki the bike will be good enough for the job and the GSX-R1000 Suzuki is a bike I know well, and the bike that I would prefer to be on for sure. My approach will be the same: go out and get comfortable and once comfortable start going for those wins for sure and rack up as many podium credits as possible."

Just two points had separated Hopkins from becoming the first American to win the MCE BSB title in the 2011 final standings and he believes that the Showdown format could aid his quest to make championship history.

"With not being on a race bike for a year, I'd say the Showdown could work in my favour this year, as it did in 2011," he predicted. "It does make for a hell of a climax and exiting racing, and at the end of the day that's what we are there for - to put on a good show. I can't wait to get started."

The 2014 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship visits Brands Hatch Indy on 18-21 April, Oulton Park on 3-5 May, Snetterton on 13-15 June, Brands Hatch GP on 18-20 July, Oulton Park on 8-10 August, Cadwell Park on 23-25 August and Brands Hatch GP on 17-19 October for the Showdown finale. Tickets are now on sale from £26 and you can find out more and order them by clicking the links for each circuit. Money-saving season passes are also available. Click here for more details.