Hopkins in preliminary Kawasaki talks

John Hopkins' management team have had tentative talks with Kawasaki about a 2008 ride, with further talks expected to take place at the Italian Grand Prix, autosport.com can reveal

Hopkins in preliminary Kawasaki talks

On the back of the progress that Kawasaki have made with their new generation 800cc bike, the Japanese manufacturer have had numerous approaches from riders looking at their options for next year.

Sources have indicated, however, that Hopkins' approach has been the most serious. It is understood that senior figures from the Wasserman Media Group that manages his career will be travelling to Mugello next weekend to further discussions.

The American's tie-up with personal energy drink sponsor, Monster, has fuelled speculation about a deal - with its colours being similar to the Kawasaki green. There is already a link with the AMA Super Cross Kawasaki team in the United States.

A Kawasaki source said, "Some top five finishers from races in the last year have come to us, impressed with what they have seen the bike do out on the track.

"We know the bike has improved and we also know that the riders have a lot more to get out of the bike."

Loris Capirossi has also been linked with a switch to Kawasaki. The Italian was close to a deal with the team for the 2003 season before opting for Ducati's first season in MotoGP.

"Anyone who didn't consider Capirossi would be unwise, while to consider a rider just because of a sponsor would also be unwise," added the Kawasaki source.

Kawasaki's hopes of attracting a big name for 2008 have been boosted by the progress that they have made this season.

It has not gone unnoticed by a number of riders that the Kawasaki have eeked out an extra 10bhp from their engine since the start of the season - with more expected to come.

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Series MotoGP
Teams Kawasaki Racing Team
Author Toby Moody
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