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MOTOGP NEWS 

John Hopkins says he feels back in the groove after a day's practice in Brno

John Hopkins, Suzuki, 2011MotoGP returnee John Hopkins was delighted to have been able to find a rhythm on his first competitive day back on the Suzuki since Jerez in May.

The 28-year-old American ended the first day's practice for the Czech MotoGP just 0.023s seconds slower than his team-mate Alvaro Bautista, having set the 10th fastest time overall.

"It's been a big culture shock today, the most elite riders in the world are all packed in the MotoGP field, but it has still been a good day for us," said Hopkins. "When I rode in Jerez my mindset was still with prototype racing, because I hadn't quite got into Superbike riding, but all this year I've got very comfortable with a Superbike and so coming into this weekend I was a bit afraid it would all feel totally different and I couldn't ride a GP bike anymore - luckily that wasn't the case!

"I tried to get comfortable this morning and follow as many people as possible, because to be honest I need as much help as I can get at the moment!

"I was well within the top 10 this morning and I managed to follow Alvaro and he showed me some lines which was really cool I was very happy with that, and the fact that he didn't get upset and just let me follow.

Hopkins, who hasn't had a regular ride in MotoGP since his ill-fated season with Kawasaki in 2008, said there was more to come from the bike after another day's bedding in.

"This afternoon we tried a few things with the bike to see where we could improve, but we never really went too far away from the set-up we had this morning," he said. "We used a couple of tyre variations to see how they worked and that gives us something to go on for the rest of the weekend. I did a quicker lap today than my best lap here before, which was in the race in 2007, so that was a good thing.

"I'll now sleep with the track on my mind and come back a lot better tomorrow morning, I'm sure if I can get more comfortable on the bike and find a rhythm, then I can get at least half-of-a-second off my time from today."

Bautista, who ended the day eighth quickest, was just happy to complete two practice sessions without being hampered by injury something that has never occurred during his time in the top class at Brno.

"Today was my first full MotoGP day at Brno when fully fit, so I am pleased to have done that," said Bautista. "Last year I crashed in the second free practice and the rest of the weekend was quite hard for me. The first thing today was to get a good feeling with the bike, but this morning I felt the bike slide a bit in the corners, this might have been because the track was a bit dirty, but we made a change that also helped to improve the problem.

"I can do a long run with used tyres and after 26 laps my rhythm was good and I could do low 58s. We then put in a new front and rear tyre and I was able to push a bit more, but I found some traffic on the last laps and I couldn't improve my time. I am happy with today because I have done the fastest lap I've ever done at Brno, my previous best was 59.1 and today I did 57.8 so that is a good improvement."

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