Crescent Fixi Suzuki's John Hopkins, the lone American in the World Superbike Series, will face a difficult challenge this weekend, getting to grips with a circuit that he's never seen before - historic Monza in northern Italy.
Known as the "Temple of Speed," Monza is famous for its three-quarter mile front straight where speeds will reach nearly 200 mph. But it's the twisty bits in between that will be the challenge as Monza's 3.58-mile course features many a tight chicane between the straights. But at least Hopkins fitness is better, the Californian having had more time to get in shape following his early season injury woes. He's also been back on the motocross bike.
"Funnily enough, I have never ridden at Monza before, so I will have to start the weekend learning the track," Hopkins said in a team release. "Normally I am a quick learner and because I have watched a lot of TV footage of the track, I don't see any big problems. Apart from the chicanes, it looks pretty straightforward. As long as it's dry, I reckon I can get it dialed-in pretty easily.
"After the last race, I had absolutely no problems with my hand at all. Since then, I've been mountain biking and doing some motocross and the hand has been good. I felt very comfortable on the Crescent FIXI Suzuki in Assen and was just happy to be out there riding and getting to know the bike better. Now I'm looking forward to Monza and getting my best results of the season so far."
He will be joined by his teammate Leon Camier on the lone Suzuki GSX-R1000s in the race.
"Monza is going to be a tough one for sure," Camier said "The track is all about speed, but you also have to understand the corners as well. It's a place where slipstreaming is very important and it is possible to be fourth going into Ascari and still win the race. For that you need to be in front going into the Parabolica because the finish line is much nearer to the last corner than it used to be. Last year I was faster than my teammate in the second race, but a crash ruined everything.
"Because of the changing weather conditions in the last round, we didn't get a chance to try as many things as we would've liked, so we'll use the first practice as a kind of test session. I am looking forward to Monza and would like three days of dry weather so we can get all our work done at the beginning. If we do that, I feel positive we can come away with good results."