Stoner The Man To Beat in Sepang


17th October, Sepang - Suzuki’s John Hopkins has put newly crowned MotoGP champion Casey Stoner ahead of four-times Malaysian GP MotoGP winner Valentino Rossi as the top contender at the 2007 Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix this Sunday.

“Casey Stoner will be the man to beat this weekend. He has been in hot form throughout the season and I expect him to be in the same awesome form this weekend,” said Hopkins, who will be seeking his first ever MotoGP win.

Hopkins, who would be leaving Suzuki at the end of the season after five seasons to join Kawasaki, said that he would be going all out for a win, adding that it would be good if he could sign off by providing a win for the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Team.

Speaking to reporters when met at SIC Hari Raya Open House at the circuit, Hopkins said that it would be a challenging race this weekend for all the riders as they compete in a newly resurfaced Sepang track.

“Basically, it will be a new experience for everybody as we do not know whether the tyres’ grip will favour the Bridgestone or the Michelin tyres. So, we will just need to wait and see,” said Hopkins, who rides a Suzuki GSV-R machine on Bridgestone tyres.

Nicknamed as Hopper, John Hopkins is having his best ever season this year as he sits at fourth overall with 165 points after the Australian Grand Prix. Three podium finishes – at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, Brno (Republic Czech) and Misano (San Marino) - has made 2007 even sweeter for the Anglo-American rider.

While noting that it had been raining since the past week in Sepang, Hopkins said that he would be praying for a dry track throughout the week; saying that he performed to his best capability on a dry track.

“On a wet track, it will be very difficult to say who will be favourite. It will also unclear to what is going to happen at the race. I always prefer a dry track,” added Hopkins.

At the Hari Raya Open House, Hopkins and 250cc rider Mika Kallio showed off his skills to some 700 guests in weaving ketupat shells, frying ‘roti canai’ and preparing the local favourite drink – teh tarik.

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