Seeing as I was stationed in the ePayMe Yamaha Racing camp over the Friday and Saturday, I decided I was going to do a Q&A with the former MotoGP podium finisher, so that’s exactly what I did. John Hopkins speaks to me about the BSB world in comparison to MotoGP, his 2017 plans and also how his former rivalry with Tommy Hill still drives him on today.
How does the Yamaha compare to a GP bike and other Superbikes?
Well to be honest, it’s hard to compare any Superbike with a MotoGP bike because the contrasts are so big, even though they were even bigger before! They are getting closer nowadays and I have to say, this Yamaha is definitely the closest Superbike I have ridden in comparison to a GP bike. GP bikes are extremely rigid and tend to have really stiff chassis, meaning you feel everything from the circuit. The Yamaha has a very rigid chassis but yeah, it’s definitely not a million miles off the characteristics of a GP bike.
On a whole, what’s the difference between MotoGP and BSB?
British Superbikes is definitely more family friendly and less commercial. It is way more corporate in MotoGP. The fan base over here in BSB is absolutely amazing and I would say it is by far the best and most competitive domestic Superbike championship anywhere in the world. The BSB crowd attendances embarrass the WSBK series; the World championship has a lot of catching up to do because a lot of the tracks they go to, they really struggle with pulling people into the stands. Rain or shine, BSB is thriving and we always seem to get a really good turn out and as a rider, I’m really grateful for that.
How do you keep fit, seeing as the bikes get more powerful and harder to handle?
I like to stay fit by riding and keeping active on two wheels. Motocross has always been my passion and it was my first love before I even got into racing so yeah, I am always motocrossing at every chance I get as well as mountain biking. When I was in MotoGP, the teams and factories always wanted me to be cautious in case I did myself an injury but I would never sign a contract if it meant I had to stay away from a motocross bike.
Do you see yourself returning to the world stage?
Right now, I still feel like a have a point to prove in British Superbikes and you know, where ever it goes from there we will see. I do kind of miss the world stage in terms of seeing the countries and going on the big, Grand Prix circuits but now I have a wife and two kids, it is nice being at my home away from home and being able to have a base in the UK. I mean, most of the WSBK circuits are in Europe anyway so yeah, we will see how it goes but right now, I’m still enjoying BSB and like I’ve said, I have a point to prove.
Where do you think you could have been without the injuries?
Well, I’d like to say we would be well within the top six and in the showdown at this stage of this season if I hadn’t injured myself at Knockhill. I think the following circuits after my injuries are by far my favourite circuits in BSB. Thruxton, Snetterton are all my favourite circuits and I am gutted not to have more of a say in the title. My plan now is to be in an imaginary showdown and try and sign off this year on a high!
What are your 2017 plans?
I would like to stay in BSB on a competitive package, I haven’t signed anything yet but we have had a couple of offers but my main focus at the moment is to finish off this season and try and do the best I can. I have the pace and I know I can be competitive on a good bike.
How does your previous rivalry with Tommy impact on your working relationship?
It’s just banter really. At the time it was obviously serious, and he could have been my worst enemy. We both had our race faces on and it wasn’t anything personal, it was just the fact that we both wanted the same thing. There are absolutely no regrets, it happened the way it was supposed to, as it was all clean and to just be a part in that championship season was absolutely amazing! That is one of the races that is still driving me today to try and succeed and win the BSB championship. If it came down to a last lap scrap this year and the rider I was battling with needed a win then I wouldn’t do something stupid but I am also riding for myself. I haven’t signed a deal just yet. I have respect for other riders but I am here for myself right now.
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko
Photo Credit to Gareth Davies, for yet another fabulous image.