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Neil Hodgson profile

By Dan Moakes
February 26 2005

Neil Hodgson
nationality · English
born · 20 November 1973
grand prix début · 1992
world superbike début · 1996

Neil Hodgson - photo by Diederik van der Laan
Neil Hodgson - photo by
Diederik van der Laan

If ever there was a case of hard work paying off, then it has to be Neil Hodgson’s journey to World Championship glory. Success came early, but his first steps in GP racing showed how tough it can be at the top level. Despite some disappointment, his determination kept him on the right path, and a pace back into BSB allowed him to flourish. From that stage onwards he earned the right to the best Superbike in the World, and he made use of it to the fullest extent. As he returns to the GP arena in 2004, he is not a man you can discount

1982
Started in schoolboy motocross

1990
8th in British Clubman’s ministocks

1991
20th in British 125cc championship; fastest lap at Brands Hatch

1992
British 125cc Champion; World Championship 125cc début
Making his Grand Prix début at the age of eighteen, Hodgson raced the number 69 Honda for MBM Racing in the British race, finishing outside the points

1993 Burnett Racing, number 25 Honda
Neil completed a full season in the 125cc class, to good effect at times. Despite being taller than many of his competitors, he finished 24th overall with eighteen points, and results included twelfth in Spain, tenth at home, and eleventh in the Czech GP

1994 Shell Harris Grand Prix, number 40 Harris Yamaha
In 1994, Hodgson competed in the Spanish Supercup, finishing seventh, then appeared in the final two 500cc GPs for Harris. The first of these was in Argentina, where he finished fifteenth. A single point placed him 32nd equal for the season

Neil Hodgson 1995 - photo by Fotobikes
Neil Hodgson - photo by Fotobikes · www.fotobikes.com

1995 World Championship Motorsports, number 25 ROC Yamaha
His third year of GPs saw a full campaign in the 500s, and Neil scored a useful 54 points, for eleventh in the final table. It was very much a learning year, but he began qualifying on the fourth row early on, the third by mid-season, was sixth in Brazil, and on row one - fourth - in Argentina. Having scored in five of the first seven races, he then finished eighth in France and seventh in the UK and was not out of the top eleven after that

1996 Ducati Corse, number 9 Ducati
In 1996 Hodgson moved into World Superbikes, where he was paired with John Kocinski on the Ducati 916. There were plenty of good qualifications, but Neil only reached the rostrom once, with third in the United States. However, it was a pretty consistent year, from round four onward, and he finished in the top nine on eleven occasions, and 122 points meant tenth position. Kocinski had twelve podium results, with five wins taking him to third overall

1997 Ducati Corse, number 9 Ducati
Neil was retained for 1997, but this time his team-mate was double champion Carl Fogarty. Hodgson came close to winning at Hockenheim, but Fogarty forced his way through and Neil went from first to eighth on the last lap. With pole position in Britain, he raced into the top nine fourteen times. Unfortunately, the best of these were fourth places at Misano, Donington Park and Brands Hatch, and 137 points placed him only ninth overall. Foggy was second, with a similar record to Kocinski in ’96. After the season, Neil broke his knee riding a motocross bike!

1998 Kawasaki Racing Team, number 5 Kawasaki
A switch to Kawasaki and the unpredictable ZX-7RR brought similar results to the Ducati years, with a run of top nine results, the best of which was fourth at Monza. His points haul this time was 124½, which amounted to eleventh in the final table
Also qualified third and finished seventh in the Suzuka 8 Hours, with Hitoyasu Izutsu

1999 GSE Racing INS Ducati, number 25 Ducati
For 1999, Hodgson moved into the British Superbike series, where a Ducati 996 was the machine to have. He won the first race, at Brands Hatch, but the season developed into a tussle between Troy Bayliss, Chris Walker and John Reynolds. Neil finished third, fourth or fifth in all but one of the next thirteen races, and managed several more top six results, including second at Cadwell Park and another win at Donington. With two fastest laps, he was fourth overall on 301 points
Also competed in the British rounds of World Superbike, but scored no points

2000 GSE Racing INS Ducati, number 4 Ducati
2000 was Neil’s breakthrough year, and he raced Walker (Suzuki) and Reynolds (Ducati) for the title itself. Twenty top four results included seven wins and seven seconds, and he also took the 996 to five poles and three fastest laps. The battle with Walker was spirited, to say the least, and the pair clashed memorably at Oulton Park, letting Reynolds through for victory. In the second race at the Donington finale, all Walker had to do was finish fourth. A rare Suzuki failure meant that Hodgson was rewarded with the top prize for a hard-fought season
He also competed in the three British rounds of the World Superbike series, and won two of them from pole. With a second, a third and a fourth place to boot, he scored 99 points and was twelfth overall

2001 GSE Racing, number 100 Ducati
The British title won, GSE took Neil back into World Superbikes, where his new found confidence resulted in some good showings against the full works riders. Twelve top five finishes included a win and three seconds in the four UK races, plus second in Germany, and second and third in the US. With four poles and a fastest lap on the 996 RS/00, Hodgson was fifth overall, on 269 points

2002 HM Plant Ducati, number 100 Ducati
In this season, the orange GSE 998 F01 machines were run under the HM Plant banner, and Neil stepped up a gear on his year-old bike. The title race was dominated by Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss, but Hodgson was easily best of the rest, securing three more poles and a fastest lap, as well as twenty-one results in the top five. Of these, nine were on the podium, and he was second at both Monza and Brands. Ultimately, he comfortably out-scored the works Ducatis of Ben Bostrom and Rubén Xaus, and finished third on 326 points

2003 Fila Ducati, number 100 Ducati
With both Bayliss and Edwards going to MotoGP, Hodgson was the obvious choice for the factory Ducati squad, and the new 999RS F03. The year started with Neil in tremendous form, winning eleven races from twelve, and taking second in the other. After that, the rest were always playing catch up, and two more wins, six seconds, a fourth and a fifth gave him the title by an impressive 103 point margin, despite two crashes. Six poles and ten fastest laps served to underline his number one status, and his final score was 489

2004 d’Antín Ducati
As with Bayliss, Neil’s reward from Ducati is a slot on a Desmosedici in the MotoGP championship, in this case with Luís d’Antín’s new satellite team. For the second year running, Hodgson will be teamed with Spanish rider Xaus


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