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Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

January 25, 2009

MOTOGP In The Woods Of New Hampshire?

John_hopkins_rally One of my co-students at Team O’Neil Rally School last week turned out to be MOTOGP (Motorcycle Grand Prix) racer John Hopkins. John had a rough 2008 that included 3 serious crashes on his Kawasaki motorcycle. He is now back in great shape and like any champion looking forward to his next challenge.

BOB KILPATRICK: You’re a motorcycle racer. What are you doing here in the snow and woods of New Hampshire in a rally car?
JOHN HOPKINS: Basically just getting my car control down and getting some experience behind the wheel. I got the chance to drive the Subaru [prepared by Vermont SportsCar] on the last day. I’ve always had an interest in rally. Alpinestars, my main sponsor and Arai and Monster thought it would be a really good event if I can get myself enough experience to compete in the X Games this summer. And so I said, “Yeah man, I would love it!”

BK: So the primary goal is to get into the rally event at X Games this Summer?
JH: Yeah, I'm working to get into the X Games this summer, I hope to be competing there this year.

BK: What do you need to do to get that far?
JH:  Basically I’ve got some races that we’re going to attend to. Today was the make it or break it day, where I decided “okay, I think I’m good enough where I can get to the next level”. Now I'll start progressing from here. If I didn’t like it we would have taken the car experience and moved on, but I’ve come away today just so damn excited about it. I just had a blast. A really, really good time. I feel like I’ve got a lot to learn, but I can progress strongly. Now the next stage is to get on the phone with my agents and managers back in Carlsbad, that manage Pastrana and Mirra, all the same guys, and say “Okay, what’s next? Get me in the next rally.” They’ll line it all up and I think the first race will be in Canada. And from there we’ll do more races and try to get as much testing under our belts as possible, just drive as much as possible leading up to the X Games.

John_hopkins_rally_ BK: We all agree rally is fun. I know I’ve felt like a kid on a roller coaster all week. Is it similar to riding the motorcycle?
JH: It’s similar for me as far as just the adrenaline and the excitement that I get. That’s what got me to the level that I’m at with my motorcycle racing. My instinct, my excitement and my passion for racing and this just brought it all back. It was something new today that I really, really enjoyed. I’ve definitely got a passion for it.

BK: I would think that on the motorcycle it would be more precision, there’s one particular line to ride as opposed to rally where you’re bouncing around and you’re switching things up.
JH: It’s a completely different discipline, but I’ve done a lot of off-road stuff as well. I’m always out in the desert off-roading my trucks. It’s a similar concept. It’s whether you can get yourself into that tunnel vision, you start getting into that focus in rally, you’re bouncing around everywhere. I’ve grown up in motocross where you’re flying everywhere. You’ve got legs flying off the bike and you’re still staying on it. It’s a similar sort of mental focus. I think rally drivers are probably the smartest drivers on the planet as compared to any other discipline of driving. You’ve got to work with a co-driver. You’ve got to know what’s coming up. If you slide off the track in Formula 1 or anything like that you’re going to go in a gravel trap. You’re going to be safe. In rally you’re doing a hundred miles an hour in the forest. Man, you hit a tree and there’s going to be some consequences. That brings tons of excitement back to it. I love it.


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Man, you hit a tree and there’s going to be some consequences. That brings tons of excitement back to it. I love it.rolex watches

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