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GP Week : Issue 17
JOHN Hopkins is a doubtful starter for his home GP at Laguna Seca on July 20, after suffering leg injuries in a high- speed crash during the qualifying hour on Friday at Assen. As well as a relatively insignificant fracture to his left ankle, Hopkins opened up an old fracture at the bottom of his left tibia, and sustained a fresh fracture in the same bone. The fresh injuries add more problems for a rider who has spent almost his entire first season with Kawasaki limping or hobbling, after a series of crashes that began at pre-season tests at Phillip Island in Australia. Hopkins fell on the entry to Ramshoek corner, a long left-hander approached at very high speed through a right kink towards the end of the Assen lap. The kink where Hopkins initially lost control is one of the fastest parts of the track, and one of the most spectacular corners of the year. Ramshoek had claimed Loris Capirossi a day earlier. It was where Toni Elias suffered a costly fracture to his femur last year, and where Rossi sustained wrist fractures the previous year. All of these were hurt while tumbling through the gravel trap. Hopkins’s crashed happened earlier in the corner, so fast it looked at first as though his brakes may have failed. In fact, he had lost the front as he changed direction. His trajectory meant he scooted across the new area of tarmac laid between track and gravel trap at barely reduced speed, then skimmed over the reduced gravel trap to slam feet-first into the barrier. Earlier reports were that he had only an ankle fracture as well as being badly knocked about, but further investigation proved it was worse than at first suspected. Hopkins returned home to California for treatment by Dr Arthur Ting, an orthopaedic surgeon famed for past treatment on US racers going back as far as Kenny Roberts Senior, as well as Mick Doohan. Capirossi’s crash the day before was a simple low-sider, but the Italian – making his comeback after missing Donington Park with hand injuries – was unfortunate in getting his right arm caught under his bike. It is thought the footrest caused the severe flesh wound to his right arm, which required immediate stitches. The continued crashes at this spectacular section of track are sure to raise questions as to whether this last piece of the old Assen needs to have its teeth drawn. Hopkins worst as injury toll rises On balance, Spies saves himself for US tests BEN Spies got a second chance at a GP outing at Assen, but the double AMA champion turned it down, preferring to wait until official tests at Indianapolis during the week before renewing his acquaintance with the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R. The American was at Assen by prior arrangement, since there had earlier been a slender chance that team regular Loris Capirossi might not be fit. But the Italian was passed fit to race the previous weekend, while Spies was making his MotoGP debut on his bike, so the chance was off. It was suddenly on again when Capirossi crashed on the first afternoon of practice … but to Spies it was a poison chalice. With two sessions already gone, bad weather predicted for the second day of practice, and then expectations for a dry race, he thought he might be more of a hazard than an asset to the team, and feared he might only do his reputation more harm. “If I’d have gotten just one practice session today, I’d have done it. But tomorrow they say will be wet, then race may be dry. To get out and learn the track in the rain with these guys who are already up to speed, then have it different again from race day – I decided it wasn’t worth it,” he said. Spies left the track forthwith, preferring not to stay for the second day of practice and the race; Capirossi’s bikes remained parked in the garage. Kevin Schwantz, who won the championship on a Suzuki in 1993 and now plays a senior role with Spies’s US Yoshimura Suzuki team, confirmed that it had been entirely Ben’s decision: “My initial thought was: it’s a couple more hours track time. But with the weather I guess he decided it wasn’t worth it. He just felt like there were more cons than there were pros to doing it,” said Schwantz. M oto GP news >> 14