Rizla Suzuki Press Release: Bautista And Hopkins To Test At Qatar

With the final MotoGP test at Qatar just a few days away, and in sight of the season opener a week later, Rizla Suzuki issued a press release previewing the work they have to do at the test. Here's the text of the press release:

Rizla Suzuki ready for the final test

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP is on the way to Losail in Qatar for the final pre-season test this week still with an intensive schedule ahead of it.

Álvaro Bautista has made big steps during the first two tests of the season – both held at Sepang in Malaysia – and is hoping to continue the good work at a circuit that will stage the opening round of the MotoGP season. The cooler evening temperatures at Qatar – the tests will take place between 18.00hrs and 23.00hrs local time on Saturday 13th March and Sunday 14th March – will give the Suzuki engineers the chance to assess the improvements that have been made to the GSV-R to help it perform in all conditions.

Bautista will be joined at the test by former Rizla Suzuki star John Hopkins. The Anglo-American racer finished fourth in the 2007 MotoGP World Championship with Suzuki. He has recently joined the Samsung Crescent Suzuki team in British Superbikes in an aim to re-build his career following surgery to his wrist to enable him to keep riding. Hopkins will assist Rizla Suzuki with some PR filming planned for the test weekend and will be watching the progress of the 2011 Suzuki GSV-R around the 5,380m Losail circuit with interest.

With Qatar being the only floodlit track on the calendar, this week's test will give all the riders a clear indication of what to expect when they return there next weekend for the first race of the MotoGP season on Sunday 20th March – also under floodlights.

Álvaro Bautista:
"After the two good tests at Sepang we have a better idea about the bike and a good setting to start with at Qatar. This final test will be very important for us, as it will be the last time we can make some more improvements to the GSV-R before the first race. I am really looking forward to racing again and that can't come soon enough for me. The team has worked very well in the pre-season and we need to carry this on and into the rest of the year."


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The press release says Hopper will helping with PR filming.
But it makes no mention of him doing any actual testing.

Are Suzuki not getting enough PR mileage from Bautista?
Or perhaps with all of the testing falling on Bautista's shoulders, Suzuki need someone else for PR.

If it's just PR, I wonder why they didn't use their last champion, KRJR?
Does Hopper's Anglo-American cachet outweigh KRJR's championship?
Was KRJR's championship too long ago?
Or maybe KRJR was not interested.

As far as I remember Denning in previous statements also only mentioned that Hopper will help with the film stuff, not with the testing. Being away for so long his data wouldn't really be useful anyway and besides, they have Aoki for testing.
The filming is done during the day time, not during the actual test sessions, so there would be no issue of Bautista being busy with testing. They did all their PR filming at Qatar last year as well and for them it might simply look better to have two bikes on track for some shots.

The whole thing with Hopper to me looks more like a mixture of a tentative "how about you coming back in the future, maybe?" and just plain Suzuki PR. He is already scheduled as sort of a back up for Bautista this season, so it would make sense in a way for them to have him around for a bit.

GPone.com stated that Denning said Hopkins would be on the bike. I remember reading that it would be limited testing not full scale. He did mention that the ideal wildcard or substitute rider would be Hopkins.

Lets hope that Hopkins shines in the little testing he gets in so that he will pique their interest even more. Maybe even on another bike...

I doubt anyone could be competitive on the Suzuki, but it would be great to see him back in baby blue. He was one of the more interesting guys in the MotoGP paddock, and his riding style was absolutely breathtaking.

But as its most successful rider ever, it appears Suzuki's MotoGP effort could use him.

Firstly, I'll assume you mean of the 4-stroke era... and that ain't saying much.

Secondly, I think the GSV-R's most glorious achievement was the '04 Pole in Rio, and that was KRJR. More so then Hopper's 4 podiums in '07. Debatable, but that's my 2 cents...

But hey, I'd be happy to see any additional/new/old bikes/riders on the grid.

is that Suzuki HAS to ride with a substitute rider, should Bautista be injured, since Dorna is already angry after them only lining up 1 bike in 2011.
Denning still fancies Hopkins, would have liked to see him test in Qatar to gauge his level should the opportunity arise, but Bautista is all over the press asserting that he's better off alone (without a teammate) to get all the attention of the team and must have been pretty unhappy about the whole Hopper affair...
Therefore Denning plays down the importance of Hopper, he would likely ride only a handful laps for "PR" purposes.
This is just my educated guess at best...
(KRJR? World champion but zero international recognition, it was ages ago, 2 strokes, poor end of carreer in MotoGP, probably not tied anymore to Suzuki and frankly, it would be pathetic to have to go 10 years back in the racing history of the brand...world champion in 2000 with 4 wins but then only 3 podiums in his last 5 years with Suzuki)

I don't think Bautista was at all fazed by the whole Hopper deal. Why would he. It's never been the question of Hopkins actually joining the team for the whole season, so Bautista's status as the lead this year was never in any danger.
From my understanding Bautista is mainly referring to the difference from this year to last, when seemingly Capirossi's input always had the last say on the development. There've several side comments by observers in the paddock that apparently Loris was seen as the development guy in the box, or wanted to be seen that way, no matter if it was the right way to go or not, and therefore Bautista didn't have that much say in which way to develop. But his main reason for chosing Suzuki in the first place was to be able to work directly with a factory and influence the development, so if these "rumours" are true, then he surely must be more than happy that he's now actually having exactly that kind of influence he was looking for. Hopper won't have bothered him in that regard at all, me thinks.

Then again, just my two cents. ;)

My guess is that if the Suzuki proves to be at all competitive, you'll see Hopkins back in GP by season's end. After basically skipping the '10 model year, the new GSXR is out and Suzuki appears to be spending again...if they choose to take any of that money back to GP is the question. The move to 1000cc next year could be helping that along.

Here's hoping we see a two rider lineup by the time I make the trek to Indy.