FIXI Crescent Suzuki is back to full strength this weekend as John Hopkins joins team-mate Leon Camier for the World Superbike Championship sixth round at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City for the American round of the series.
Hopkins, who has been recovering at home in America from foot and hip injuries sustained at the fourth round of the series at Monza in Italy earlier this month, has been given the all-clear to race after missing the European round of the series at Donington Park in England a fortnight ago, where Camier took a season-best result of fourth in the second race.
Hopkins is optimistic about his fitness, but will have pain-killing injections as he takes to the track on Saturday in preparation for Monday's race. It will be his first race at Miller, but both riders are upbeat and looking forward to taking advantage of the newly-uprated and improved Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-Rs; particularly Camier who has raced to two second-placed finishes at the American circuit.
Miller Motorsports Park is located around 40kms from the centre of Salt Lake City in the state of Utah and not far away from the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats. It is the newest, and safest, circuit in North America and was first opened in 2006. World Superbike is visiting the circuit for the fifth time and has firmly become established as the main event of the year at the 4,907m long circuit. The track features a 1,100m long pit-straight where the Superbike machines are expected to exceed the 320kmh (200mph) mark and to celebrate this the circuit has set up a 'Quest for 200' prize draw competition for the general public. With a circuit that has corner names such as; Scream, Wind-Up, Bad Attitude, Right-Hook and Dreamboat, the fans already have the makings of an exciting weekend before they even see a wheel roll!
The Miller Park event is also unique in being the only Monday race on the World Superbike calendar; it is taking place on Monday to coincide with the American holiday to celebrate 'Memorial Day'. This means Hopkins, Camier and the rest of the field will take to the track for first practice on Saturday morning - local time - with the first race scheduled for 12.00hrs local time (19.00hrs BST) on Monday May 28th.
"It was a pity that I had to miss Donington because I think I would have been very competitive there. Certainly, in Assen and Monza, I felt very comfortable with the bike and my hand wasn't giving me any problems at all. The bike has definitely improved since my first time on it and I know that there's more to come.
"Although, I'm not going to be 100% in Miller, I am going there to give it my best shot. I've never raced there before, but I have been as a spectator and even done a lap - in a golf cart! I know some areas that are not so easy to learn, but I've always been somebody who adapts to circuits pretty well so I think I'll get it dialled-in pretty quickly. Racing at home is always a bit special and I am looking forward to the weekend and performing well in front of my fans."
"I am happy we're improving and I feel we're getting better and better each time out. Everybody in the team has been working their socks off and now we're seeing the results of all the hard work and definitely making progress.
"Miller is a bit of a strange track and, because it is so high up, the bikes always feel as if they are down on power. It's not a difficult circuit but, like all tracks, you need a good bike set-up if you want good results - especially on the long corners. I really like Miller and it has been a good track for me. I was on the podium last year and I'd be very happy if I could do that again this year."