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Mar 28, 2001

Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki Rider Health Update

All three of Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki's riders suffered injuries during two weeks of racing at Daytona International Speedway February 28 – March 11, but all three are likely top be fully recovered in time for upcoming races and test sessions.

Grant Lopez, 29, suffered a broken thumb on his right hand as well as possible broken ribs in a highside during practgice February 28th. Despite the injuries, Lopez ran away to the Formula USA Unlimited Superbike win Sunday, March 4 in rainy conditions--conditions which Lopez said helped his cause.

Lopez crashed again, after Roger Lee Hayden's blown-up Erion Honda deposited oil in turn one during the March 9 AMA 600cc Supersport race. After repairs were made to bike during a red-flag break top clean up the oil, Lopez restarted and eventually finished 17th, despite taking the re-start from the back of the second wave of the grid. As of March 26, Lopez had not sought further treatment to his injured thumb, saying that he planned to resume training on his motocross bike before the end of this month. Lopez plans to attend a test session at Road Atlanta April 10-12 before continuing to defend his Formula USA title at Willow Springs International Raceway April 19-22.

John Hopkins, 17, broke his collarbone in an incident following the red flag during that same 600cc Supersport race, after leading the race at several points. Hopkins looked over his shoulder as he slowed down on the back straightaway after the red flag, and Miguel Duhamel drifted in front of Hopkins. Hopkins looked forward again just before he hit the rear tire of Duhamel's bike and fell; Duhamel did not crash as a result of the incident.

Hopkins' broke his collarbone, but it did not require resetting or any medical treatment other than immobilization. Hopkins will miss the upcoming AMA team tests at Road Atlanta, but expects to compete in the next round of the AMA series, scheduled for May 4-5 at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California

Ben Spies, 16, broke his left hand after highsiding in the International Horseshoe in practice for the Formula USA Daytona event. Spies sat out that race weekend, but got back on the bike for the AMA sprints, and took second place in the AMA 750cc Supersport race behind former 750cc Supersport Champion Jason Pridmore. Spies also sought no further medical treatment than that received from Dr. David Kieffer at Daytona. A knuckle on Spies left hand is slightly displaced, but Spies already has 80 percent of his grip strength back, and the hand caused him little trouble in the 750 race.

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