Hopkins Gets Cooking

Henny Ray Abrams | May 29, 2009

That John Hopkins was grilling chicken breasts on the back of a golf cart isn’t newsworthy. That he was doing it standing up, without the aid of crutches, is.The Stiggy Racing Honda rider dislocated and broke his left hip exactly five weeks ago in a practice crash for the Dutch round of the World Superbike Championship. Hopkins flew home for surgery, which left him bed-ridden for two weeks. It was only last week that he got off crutches.”Not too bad,” he said about his recovery as he stood by the grill sitting on the back of a golf cart in the motorhome park of the Miller Motorsports Park paddock. “I mean, it’s just basically just waiting to start my rehab; I start on Monday. Just came out to hang out with the team, support the team, and help out in any way that I can. Oh, it’s good. I mean, an injury’s an injury, but we’re coming back.The Californian said the two weeks he spent in bed were difficult, “and my wife, she took the end of that, because I’m ADD [attention deficit disorder], I’ve got to be moving around everywhere, I’ve got to be doing something all the time. I’m always a really, really active person and being in bed for two weeks wasn’t part of my program normally.”It was tough, tough on us, but we made it through and we’re doing good. So we just got to keep our head down, keep focused and just look forward to getting back on the bike. It’s a shame I couldn’t make it here, I mean, just being out watching – I’ve never been here before  – but the track’s awesome looking, it’s a great track.”Hopkins spent the day trackside, monitoring the progress of Leon Haslam and Jake Zemke, his replacement. Zemke qualified 16th and Haslam 20th. Hopkins said he’s been helping Zemke, who also rode in his place in Monza.”We’ve been talking a lot. He rode really well,” Hopkins said. “I was out the entire both sessions, just around. I helped him and Leon [Haslam] out quite a bit, because both of them right now are going to be changing their gearings, just watching them in comparison with [Carlos] Checa and [Ryuichi] Kiyonari [who also ride Hondas] and they definitely need to improve their gearing set-up. But Jake’s riding really, really well and Leon’s just struggling right now with a little bit of gearing and set-up. But I’m sure he’ll find it. Sleep on the track and he’ll come back strong tomorrow.”The former dirt tracker Zemke, “likes sliding around and it’s good, man, that’s what it takes to go fast on these bikes,” Hopkins said. “So, he’s having fun out there, which is good. That’s the main thing. That was one of the first things when me and my manager spoke about it once I got hurt and we knew that I actually wouldn’t be able to race here and we said, ‘You know, I think Jake would be a good prospect for racing here, because he was the only one to beat the Suzukis back in the day, a couple of years ago, so it’d be good for him to get some time on the bike and do some racing.'”riding an American Honda CBR1000RR, Zemke won the first AMA Superbike race at Miller Motorsports Park in 2006. That was the last non-Suzuki win before the Yoshimura Suzuki team went on a 53-race winning streak that ended two weeks ago with Josh Hayes’ win on a Yamaha at Infineon Raceway.The next weekend of World Superbike racing is at Misano in three weeks’ time and Hopkins will be there. He may not be at full strength, but he wants to get back on track.”That’s the plan,” he said. “We want to come back and try to be ready for Misano. Even if I don’t do the entire weekend and race, I definitely want to get the time under my belt and just get some rider strength.”The plan is right now start Monday, really start working hard, get in the pool, stationary bicycle, get the strength back up and then the following weekend on my bicycle and then from then on I got to go straight to Misano, so it’s pretty early. No, basically we got to let it heal. That’s the main thing. We don’t want to ride it, because [Dr.] Ting was saying the worst thing that could happen is the bone could die, especially if it gets to the point where it’s going to pop out and then that’ll take a complete hip replacement. I don’t really want that on my cards.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.