With the season at its halfway point, the MotoGP carousel is starting to gain momentum, as riders start to announce their intentions for the 2008 season. Already, Honda have announced that they expect Dani Pedrosa to re-sign his contract with HRC and Repsol Honda for 2008, and now, Motorcycle News is carrying a story about another key player.
According to MCN, John Hopkins will be announcing his future plans at the Sachsenring MotoGP round. Hopkins told MCN that he had three firm offers on the table from various manufacturers: An offer to renew his contract with Suzuki; An offer of a factory ride for Kawasaki; And an offer to join the Tech 3 Yamaha team. In addition, Hopper had had some interest from Ducati, and talks with Fausto Gresini's satellite Honda team, but neither of these had gone further than initial conversations.
Hopkins' list of options raises some interesting issues. The Tech 3 Yamaha offer is of particular interest, as it implies that Tech 3 are looking to move away from using Dunlop tires, and towards something more competitive. This would tie in nicely with the speculation about Jorge Lorenzo being offered a ride with Tech 3 Yamaha, but with full factory support and Michelin tires. If Tech 3 are still on Dunlops, Hopkins is unlikely to be interested, as the Dunlops are still lagging behind the Michelins and Bridgestones and in need of development.
What's more, a switch from Bridgestone tires to Michelins could be a risky move for Hopkins, as so far, no one has yet to make the transition successfully. Both Shinya Nakano and Makoto Tamada have done dismally since switching from Japanese rubber, complaining continually about a lack of feel from the front tire. As Hopper has a similar riding style to Nakano, with a lot of focus on the front end, there is plenty of reason to believe that Hopkins could also struggle on Michelin rubber.
There is little to choose from between the Kawasaki and the Suzuki in terms of performance, so it seems like it could just come down to money. But with the Suzuki in as good a shape as it is, it would seem foolish to gamble on a move to Kawasaki.