American Racing Team Director John Hopkins was interviewed by NBC Sports commentator Leigh Diffey on the eve of the opening round of the FIM MotoGP World Championship, the Grand Prix of Qatar, March 26-28.
Speaking from his hotel in Doha near the Losail International Circuit, the former MotoGP racer was asked about the delayed return to competition of Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez.
The eight-time world champion is recovering from a broken right humerus—the bone that connects the shoulder and the elbow joints—suffered in July at the Spanish Grand Prix.
“I’ve had to deal with multiple injuries and rode with them throughout my entire career,” said Hopkins. “In this day and age, with how competitive MotoGP is, he has to be 100 percent if he wants to go out and perform as Marc Márquez.”
Hopkins raced five seasons for Suzuki, earning four podiums and finishing fourth overall in the 2007 championship. Diffey asked Hopkins for his reaction to the Japanese manufacturer’s title success in 2020 with Joan Mir.
“A lot of the personnel that are on the Suzuki team now were there when I was racing with them back in my golden days,” said Hopkins. “That Suzuki is a good bike, so it was good to see them finally succeed and get that championship under their belts again.”
Hopkins is beginning his sophomore season with American Racing. He described his position in the team as his “newfound calling.”
“I’m loving the role,” he said. “I had more satisfaction and more personal gratification seeing Joe [Roberts] succeed last season than I think ever did throughout any of my racing.”
In his breakthrough season with American Racing, Roberts had three pole positions and one podium finish.
“Joe and I have really similar riding styles,” said Hopkins, “so there was a lot of stuff I had learned throughout my career that I was able to pass over to him. So far, everything seems to have gone the same way with Cameron [Beaubier] this year. He and Joe have quite different riding styles, but he is a charger.”
Beaubier is making his Moto2 debut at Qatar with American Racing. The 28-year-old Californian won five MotoAmerica Superbike titles in six seasons, falling short in 2017 to Toni Elías, the inaugural Moto2 world champion.
“There is no question about Cameron’s talent and ability,” said Hopkins. “It is going to a take him a bit longer to get acclimated and learn how to ride the Moto2 bike and GP-style lines, but I expect him to be really, really strong this year.”
Like Hopkins, Marcos Ramirez has returned to American Racing. The 23-year-old Spaniard had three top 10 finishes in 2020, including a sixth in the Grand Prix of Aragón at MotorLand Aragón in Spain.
“Marcos also has the talent and the ability to run at the front,” said Hopkins. “This is a tough class. Two-tenths [of a second] can be the difference between first place or 15th place.
“I think American Racing is going to surprise a few people again this season.”
Watch the entire interview with Hopkins here.