M4 Monster Energy Suzuki Release: Top 5 for John Hopkins in Fontana

NEWS March 31, 2010

M4 Monster Energy Suzuki Release: Top 5 for John Hopkins in Fontana

Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki fought hard on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway to come away with three more top ten finishes, led by John Hopkins' gritty ride to fifth in the day's AMA Pro National Guard American SuperBike final.

Despite suffering significant pain and having his physical performance hampered due to issues with his right wrist, the former MotoGP star put on a late-race charge aboard his GSX-R1000. He raced from several seconds back to close on fourth position but ultimately fell less than a half-second short in his bid for the spot.

Hopkins said, "The adrenaline kicked in with five laps to go and I did everything I could to finish fourth. It was a tough weekend and not what we wanted, but going into this weekend I hadn't actually finished a race since Donington last year in World Superbike, which was last summer. I only finished three races all of last year, so it's nice to get a pair of finishes under my belt this weekend to be honest."

'Hopper' will undergo surgery to repair his wrist on Monday. He explained, "I've ridden with it broken for a bunch of years and I've had a number of issues with it over that time. There's so much scar tissue bound up inside that, while at the beginning of the weekend it's alright, the bones contract and retract and the scar tissue gets in the middle of it and it just locks up as the weekend goes on, especially at tracks like this with the chicanes and everything. When I go down the straightaway, the way I have to use the throttle is by rolling my hand.

"My bike was every bit good enough to be up front - I felt it was definitely all me that was holding us back this weekend. I'm having minor surgery on it and they're just going to clean the scar tissue out. It's only a five-day recovery, so we should be perfect for the next race weekend at Road Atlanta."

Hopkins' Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki Superbike teammate, Chris Ulrich, picked up his third top-ten finish of the season, coming home in eighth following a tremendous three-way dogfight for sixth. While encouraged with another impressive result, the Californian claims there's still more to come.

Ulrich remarked, "It was a hard battle. We've made a substantial jump over the winter. I made one mistake and that came with five or six laps to go. Both the guys I was fighting with got by me and that mistake cost me. Otherwise, I think I could have kept them behind me, but it was a good run. Last year we had a hard time even staying in the draft of some of the guys we're fighting for position with now.
There are a few things I can improve on with the bike's setting and with my racecraft, but we're making big gains. We've already equaled as many top tens as we had all of last year, but with the level of guys we're racing with this year, you can't make even the smallest mistake or give them a centimeter.

"We'll roll to Atlanta and I'm positive. The guys in the engine shop in Athens, Alabama are giving us bikes with the fastest trap speeds, so that bodes well for some of these faster tracks that are coming up."

Daytona SportBike title hopeful Martin Cardenas was unable to repeat Saturday's thrilling victory, crashing out of contention for the win on lap 14 of 21 while running a close third.

The Colombian appeared to be in the midst of replicating yesterday's ride, systematically working his way up from sixth early on to close right in on the leaders. Unfortunately, while biding his time to strike in the race's final laps, he made a slight mistake, which was compounded when he hit a seam in the track, causing him to lose his GSX-R600's front end.

Cardenas managed to remount and reenter the fray, clawing his way to a top-ten result in the end.

After finishing tenth, he said, "I was racing with the leaders and I got a little bit off line in the last turn. I touched the seam because I was a little bit off line and I lost the front tire. I tried to stand up as quick as I could and took a look at the bike to make sure it wasn't leaking oil and I managed to finish tenth, but I'm very disappointed.

"I wanted to win, of course, or at least be top three. I was right where I wanted to be; I was waiting until the end because with this heat I made sure to save the rear tire and was just waiting to really start fighting. I tried to save the tire until the last three laps, but unfortunately I crashed before that."

Team M4 Monster Energy Suzuki will next head to Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA on April 16-18 for Round 3 of the 2010 AMA Pro Road Racing Championships.

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