“This is better than anything I did in racing” – John Hopkins

John Hopkins says he has been invigorated by the opportunity to work with Joe Roberts as he rider coach after the American starred at the Moto2 opener

Joe Roberts, John Hopkins

John Hopkins says taking on the role of rider coach to Moto2 rider Joe Roberts is ‘like a fairytale’ after being credited for the impressive upturn in form by the American during the opening round of the season in Qatar.

The former MotoGP, WorldSBK and BSB rider has entered a new stage in his career after being enlisted by the American Racing Moto2 team as rider coach to Roberts – the only US rider on the grid – and Moto3 graduate Marco Ramirez and it didn’t take long for his influence to be felt.

Indeed, while Roberts has been limited to just five points’ finishes in Moto2 over the last three seasons, in Qatar he scored pole position, battled for victory and came away with a big career best of fourth position on race day.

It’s a performance Roberts has credited towards Hopkins, saying he has been dedicated to helping him improve and made it ‘fun’ in doing so.

“We have John Hopkins too coming on board who has a wealth of knowledge and has been able to pass on a lot of things to me and I wouldn’t be here without him.”

It is a role that has invigorated Hopkins’ career having competed at the highest levels of the sport between 2002 and 2008 with stints at Suzuki and Kawasaki.

Describing working with Roberts as better than anything he did in his racing career, Hopkins is delighted to see the work paying off already.

“It has been amazing and honestly been like a fairytale working with Joe and doing this job. Just in this short amount of time I feel better about what I am doing now than I think I ever did throughout racing in my entire career.

“I was helped a lot throughout my entire career, especially at the early stages, so being able to give back and help myself is something that is really important to me

“There wasn’t a week that went by throughout the entire winter where we weren’t at one form of track, cross training, road racing, Supermoto, minibike riding and the second I saw Joe out on track I knew immediately there was no shortage of talent whatsoever with Joe.

“All the little bits of advice and things I’ve been able to offer to Joe he has picked up immediately and it has been an instant improvement.

“We get along really well, he is a great, great guy, I have never met a more down to earth and humble guy and the only thing that has been holding Joe back the entire time is self-belief and confidence. I think all racers can understand confidence is everything in racing and confidence breeds confidence.”

Hopkins says he now wants to extend this by helping American Racing set up a rider academy to inspire a new generation of motorcycle racers

“It has just come together in a great way and I am really excited. We are looking at trying to start an American Racing programme academy in America and Joe is heading it right now, he is the role model for American racing.

“He is the sole rider in MotoGP at the moment and he is the one on the bike making it happen, I am just offering little bits of pieces of advice here and there and he is making it happen.”