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Brookes Steps In For Hopkins

Josh Brookes will likely race in the season opener for Crescent Suzuki alongside Leon Camier as John Hopkins continues to heal.

Team Crescent Fixi Suzuki ended the three-day unofficial tests at Phillip Island on a positive note and are now looking forward to next week’s official tests and race weekend. The crash by John Hopkins on Monday was a bit of a setback, but Aussie Josh Brookes stood in for the American on the final day and, between him and Leon, the team was able to collect a lot of useful information.

Leon Camier:
We started these tests with the same bike we used in the Portimao tests last November and then flipped between the 2011 and 2012 bikes on day two. We had a few electrical issues on the second day, but resolved them in time for the last day, which was the first time we’ve been able to make many changes we wanted to do and I’m happy because we were able to progress a lot. There’s definitely room for improvement and that is very encouraging. I feel comfortable on the bike and I like the character of the engine a lot.

The track temperature has been very hot at times and that affects how the tires work. This place is all about grip and trying to manage your tires in a race. You’ve got to have a good bike set up here if you want to lap fast. On the final afternoon, we tried a few different things - some worked and some didn’t, but it has given us a lot of good info we can use next time out. Generally I am pretty happy. I think we’re improving and, for me, the big positive is that I have been able to put in good lap times today and that makes me look forward to the official tests next Monday and Tuesday.

Josh Brookes:
It’s been more difficult than I thought because the set up of John’s bike is very different to what I am used to. It’s not easy just rocking up and riding somebody else’s bike and I started by trying to use John’s settings. They didn’t work for me, so we started to make changes and were getting there by the end of the day. I am pretty confident about the front end, but not so happy with the rear yet. That’s been the biggest problem today, but all the things we’ve tried will stand us in good stead in the tests next week.

Jack Valentine:
The team had done a massive amount of work before we arrived here, so it was a shame that the tests didn’t start well. We knew that we’d have lots to sort out, so losing John so early was a bit of a blow. Leon started with the 2011 suspension and the bike from Portimao and then we gradually introduced new parts. By day three, he was running two 2012 spec bikes and looking pretty comfortable. I’m pleased with the performance of Yoshimura engines and everything is looking very positive. I am pleased with our work over the three days because we have definitely made progress and are heading in the right direction. Of course, we’re a bit behind the game on John’s side of the garage, because he didn’t get a chance to try out all the new parts, but he’s already got a good base setting and so I don’t see any problems when he gets back on the bike.

With John out of action, we decided we wanted a high caliber rider to help out so we contacted Josh Brookes. Luckily he was able to come down and join us for the third day of the tests. He was an obvious choice - as he rides a GSX-R1000 in BSB and so is part of the Suzuki family. We’re grateful to him for coming down at short notice, and to Phillip Neil (TAS Suzuki) for allowing Josh to join our team.

It is unlikely that John will be fit enough to ride next week so, if that is the case, Josh will take part in the official tests and the races. He certainly knows his way round this place and I think it’s good for Suzuki, our sponsors and the fans that we have two riders out there for the first round of the championship.