Neil Hodgson looks forward to burning up a lot of American
race tracks in 2005.
AMA Superbike for Ducati in 2005....
Superbike Champ Neil Hodgson Interview
2003 World SBK champion Neil Hodgson will be returning
to Superbikes next year, lining up alongside Eric Bostrom
in the two-rider Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin team for
a totally new challenge – the Ducati Corse attack
on the AMA Superbike Championship.
30-year-old from Burnley, England (born November 20, 1973)
comes off the back of a difficult season in MotoGP but
is relishing the thought of this new challenge, where
he will come up against riders of the calibre of multiple
AMA title winner Mat Mladin, the legendary Miguel Duhamel
and ex-Ducati L&M factory WSBK rider Ben Bostrom as
well as brother Eric, on unfamiliar circuits like Daytona,
Brainerd and Road Atlanta.
caught up with Neil to ask him for his thoughts on next
are you happy to be back with Ducati Corse?
I felt like I never left actually because my contract
ran through, but it’s great to be back anyway. I’m
definitely happy to be racing Superbikes again. I enjoyed
my experience of riding MotoGP bikes but I’m not
going to miss them. In that championship, you only have
a chance of winning if you are in the right team on the
I would imagine you’re happy to be back on a 999?
Yes, really happy. It’s the bike I made my name
on last year. I know a lot of people think the Ducati
999 was the best bike in the world when I rode it and
then everyone got on it and started criticising it. I
think it’s an absolute winner; it suits my style
and I can’t wait to get back on and burn some laps.
sort of a challenge will AMA Superbike be?
A huge challenge and a lot of people are underestimating
how difficult it’s going to be. I’m not, I
know what lies ahead but I’m also aware that Ducati
are making a major effort to win this title. It’s
not going to be a walk in the park, it looks like it’s
going to be the toughest year in my career and I’m
going there to fight and enjoy my racing. If all goes
according to plan, then hopefully I can win the title,
but I know it’s going to be the hardest thing I’ve
ever had to do.
be racing at several unfamiliar tracks like Mid-Ohio,
Brainerd and Pikes Peak – any thoughts on that?
Yes, I’ve never even heard of half of them! All
I know is that I’ve watched a lot of AMA races this
year and the tracks look fantastic, a few dodgy ones,
but the general layout of most of the circuits looks really
imaginative, similar to English tracks: a bit old, undulating
but with a lot of character. People say they are dangerous
but motorcycle racing is dangerous anyway. I’m not
a crasher so it should suit my style.
of course you’ll have Eric Bostrom as team-mate
I don’t know Eric too well, but I feel that we are
very similar: both easy-going and pretty normal guys.
Although we raced together a couple of times in World
Superbike, I never got the chance to battle on the track
with him, but now I will, even though he’s my team-mate!
I’m sure we will work well together in the Parts
Unlimited Ducati Austin team and can help each other to
get the best possible results.
the opposition going to be like? You know some of these
I’ve raced against all of them some time in my career
and I know how talented they are. There are probably 4
or 5 very good riders. Even though the depth of field
isn’t too great, to beat the top 4 or 5 is as hard
a way you’re a bit like another British champion,
Nigel Mansell, who went to the USA to do Indycar after
winning in Formula 1...
Exactly, I’m looking forward to the rivalries as
well. To me that’s part of the sport, part of the
racing. If everything is rosy and everyone says nice things,
that’s OK but you need the rivalry, the ‘needle’,
the ‘You hate me ... great, I’m gonna beat
you, bring it on’ sort of thing. I enjoy all that
you going to be based in the states or commute back and
In the next couple of weeks I’m going to make a
decision on that. It might be easier to base myself there.
Ducati in general and Ducati North America, the AMA Championship
is very important. There’s going to be a lot of
focus on you and you are going to have a high profile
That’s probably why it’s better to live there.
If I’m constantly rushing back home, then that’s
not good for Ducati and I understand that aspect, the
PR side of things. I know the way Ducati work; I’ve
worked with them before.
was the worst thing about your MotoGP year?
Not being what I thought it would be. I thought the package
I would have was more competitive and it wasn’t.
It’s just that realization. It’s all ifs,
buts and maybes... and now I’m moving on. I’ve
no bitter feelings about it, but now it’s important
to come back and do something else.
does Neil Hodgson see his future from here?
A year in AMA and we’ll see how it goes. If I can
win in AMA I’ll be the happiest man in the world.
Then I’ll have a rethink. I’m at a bit of
a crossroads but I can’t really predict what will
happen after. Even last year was a crossroads, but I’ve
always fancied America and now it’s the right timing
for me. We’ll see how it goes. If you win you can
pick and choose to stay or move on – it’s
as simple as that. The AMA Championship poses a great
challenge both to me personally and to Ducati as they
haven’t won it for many years. I would like to make
history and be the first rider ever to win the British
and World Superbike Championships and the AMA Championship.
The main thing that I have discovered this year is that
I cannot race just to make up the numbers. I need to win!
Hodgson’s first appearance for the Parts Unlimited
Ducati Austin AMA Superbike team is scheduled for January
3-5, 2005 in testing at the legendary Daytona circuit
Maria kicks ass on the grass court at Wimbledom on her way
to winning tennis most prestegious tournement.
that Kick Ass: 17 year old tennis supermodel sensation
- The hottest, sexiest, most beautiful woman in sports
today is 17-year old Russian sensation Maria Sharapova.
This 6 foot tall teenager looks just like like a top supermodel,
while she now one of the world's top professional sport
athletes who is is kicking ass in the Women's Tennis Association
(WTA) World Championship tour. Maria finished off the
2004 season winning the WTA Championship season final
in Los Angeles at Staples Center, normally home of the
Los Angles Lakers basketball team. Some 5 months earlier
Maria had set the tenis world on its head when she came
almost out of almost nowhere (ranked 32nd in the world
in 2003, up from 186th at age 15 in 2002) to defeated
American veteran Serena Williams at Wimbledon in England,
the sport's premier tourament.
Sports, Idol Worship,
on hand at the WTA World Championship Final to see
beautiful 17-year old 6-foot tall sensation Maria
Sharapova collect a $1 Million Dollar check and
a brand new Porche SUV for her win over Serena Willams
in the tournament finale.
follows in the footsteps of previous women's tennis
superstars Martina Hingis and Anna Kourkonova in
returning a beautiful woman to the fore front in
world sports. And she has done them one better by
proving her ability as a top athlete by winning
the 2 most prestegious events of the 2004 season,
the WTA Final, and Wimbledon earlier this year.
year with her tournamet wins and placing, along
with product endorsements for major companies incluiding
Nike and Motorola, Maria has probably earned somewhere
between 5 and 10 million dollars. Equivalent to
the top men of motorsports, inlcluding Valentino
Rossi in MotoGP.
2005 GSXR1000 -platform for another AMA Championship title?
Superbike Gets Stronger - By Jim Gianatsis
Japanese Big Four Return to World Superbike for 2005!
With the announcement this week from Yamaha Racing Communications
that Yamaha Moto Europe is going to return to the SBK
World Superbike Championship in 2005 with a 2 rider
team based out of their Italian distributorship, it
now appears that all four major Japanese manufacturers:
Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki are returning to
World Superbike. The loss of the major Japanese factory
teams to MotoGP is now over, and the SBK Championship
can look forward to regaining its stature and rivalry
to MotoGP as the world's most important roadracing series.
of the Japanese teams are still in the process of coming
together and selecting riders, but the Ten Kate Honda
of Germany based team with Chris Vermeulen and former
Superbike Champion Troy Corser is already firmed up.
While another factory supported team, PSG-1 Kawasaki
have sign Chris Walker, formerly of Foggy Petronas.
And with so many new team now looking for riders, there's
going to be a lot of out of work MotoGP riders next
month who will be very happy to have another top level
World Championship to move to, particularly other former
Ducati World Superbike Champions like Troy Bayliss and
might say the Japanese are returning to World Superbike
through the back door, using European distributor run
teams, to save face in returning to the series which
they abandoned 2-3 years ago for the glamour of 4-stroke
MotoGP. But we welcome them back in any way, shape or
form. And the fact they are returning through already
established distributor teams in various European countries
means they have an establshed infrastructure of shops,
staff, mechanics and transporters already in place.
Their costs will be less, they can support more teams
with money, bikes and parts. And these already established
teams can come out swinging from the first race. We
are going to have some incredible racing in World Superbike
But not to forget, we also had some incredible racing
in 2004 World Superbike. Despite the 1-2 brand dominance,
it was certainly the closest Championship ever with
5 riders in contention for the title win from week to
week. And the title going down to the final round at
Mangy Cours between James Toseland and Regis Laconi.
don't let us forget, much appreciation must go to Ducati
for continuing to support the superbike championship
through its lean years to help it survive, both for
us fans and for the important marketing tool in is for
manufacturers. The Japanese factories lost sight of
this important aspect the last few years, and a dramatic
decline in Japanese sportbike sales and spectator race
attendance (in America and Japan in particular) was
and appreciation also needs to go out to FGSport president
Paolo Flammini and marketing director Robert Wicks for
enduring the criticism and allowing Pirelli Tires to
come in as the major SBK Championship sponsor to allow
the SBK Championship to financially survive in its lean
season. And it is acknowledged now by all that the use
of required Pirelli spec tires has allowed the racing
to be closer and more exciting. Spectators can't see
spec tires being a second a lap slower, but they certainly
can see the closer racing.
Next year in 2005, instead of seeing 5 riders fighting
for the lead at the front of the pack in World Superbike,
we just might be seeing 10-15 riders!
here in America, an acknowledgment of disappoint goes
to Laguna Seca Raceway for not renewing its contract
with World Superbike. And to AMA Pro Racing for not
creating a world class environment for its class
race tracks and promoters so World Superbike could find
another home in America -the world's biggest sportbike
market. Ironic, isn't it?
Announces its 2005 Superbike Teams
World Champion Neil Hodgson confirmed for AMA Superbike!
8th - Ducati Corse’s 2005 Superbike programmes are
now taking shape with the triple announcement of an unchanged
line-up in its World Superbike factory team, the debut
of a young Italian talent in a satellite World Superbike
structure and a redoubling of its efforts to win the AMA
Brit James Toseland, who won the 2004 World Superbike
championship on a Ducati 999F04, will defend the title
on the ‘05 version of the bike that won ten of
the 22 races on the calendar. One month ago at Magny-Cours,
James became the third British rider to win the Superbike
crown, and his team-mate will once again be the 29-year-old
Frenchman Regis Laconi, who has also been confirmed
as Ducati factory rider for 2005.
past week has been brilliant, first winning the MCN
Man of the Year award and then having my position with
Ducati Corse confirmed for 2005,” commented Toseland.
“It’s fantastic to start the season with
the same team that I won the championship with and I’m
hoping that our relationship will continue to be as
successful. I learned an awful lot last year and I feel
confident about retaining the world championship. I
can’t wait to get started.”
very happy to be reconfirmed by Ducati; this is what
I wanted,” declared Laconi. “Next year I
will try and win the championship for sure, I came very
close this year but unfortunately I made some mistakes,
even though I was nearly always the quickest rider out
on the track... c’est la vie! It’s sure
to be more difficult next year but I know that Ducati
will be working harder than ever over the winter to
prepare an even more competitive bike for the 2005 season.”
A third Ducati
999 will also be raced in World Superbike by the talented
Italian youngster Lorenzo Lanzi. The 23-year-old from
Cesena earned his promotion with a string of positive
results in World Supersport, where he finished fifth
overall, and he will campaign a 999RS for the satellite
SC team run by Stefano Caracchi. The Bologna-based team
will also continue with the Supersport race programme
of the Ducati 749R that Lanzi took to its debut this
really pleased to have this new challenge, above all
because I will have the same Supersport team of mechanics
with me,” declared Lanzi. “Once again I
move up a category after a year, and for this reason
it’s not going to be easy, but I will be riding
the 999RS, which is a very competitive bike, and we
hope to get some good results.”
The final piece
in the jigsaw for Ducati Corse’s Superbike plans
comes with the announcement that Toseland’s fellow
Brit and 2003 WSBK champion, Neil Hodgson, will line
up alongside Eric Bostrom in the Parts Unlimited Ducati
Austin AMA Superbike team for next season. After a difficult
year in MotoGP on a Desmosedici GP3, the 31-year-old
from Burnley is happy to return to the 999 bike that
took him to the 2003 WSBK title and is also relishing
this tough new challenge.
had a disappointing experience in MotoGP, it’s
such a relief to be back where I belong with Ducati
Corse,” declared Hodgson. “The AMA Championship
poses a great challenge both to me personally and to
Ducati as they haven’t won it for many years.
I would like to make history and be the first rider
ever to have won the British and World Superbike Championships
and the AMA Championship. Being back with the 999 is
going to be so natural for me and I can’t wait
to start testing. The main thing that I have discovered
this year is that I cannot race just to make up the
numbers. I need to win!”
and Lanzi will be in action next week on November 16-18
in three days of testing at Valencia, whereas Neil Hodgson’s
first appearance for the AMA Superbike team is scheduled
for January 3-5, 2005 in testing at the legendary Daytona
circuit in Florida.
GSE Team Returns to British Superbike
Nov. 8th - After a single season away from competitive
track action GSE Racing will make a welcome and eagerly
anticipated return to the circuits of the UK, having
confirmed their intention to compete at the top level
in the prestigious 2005 British Superbike Championship.
Running high specification Ducati 999F04 V-twin machinery
the GSE squad will be a two-rider team, with the riding
line up to be released in due course. GSE Racing will
also renew a partnership with Dunlop tyres, a co-operation
which has previously netted British Championships and
World Superbike race wins.
The 2005 version
of GSE Racing will feature largely the same backroom
staff as in previous years, headed up by owner and Team
Principal Darrell Healey. Team Manager Colin Wright
will once more control the racing operations of the
double British Championship winning team. GSE will return
to the 13-round British Series with the full blessing
and support of Ducati Corse.
Having secured two previous crowns in the British Championship,
with Troy Bayliss in 1999 and Neil Hodgson in 2000,
the credentials of the GSE Racing operation are unquestioned.
A return to active duty for GSE will be a momentous
occasion for British racing as a whole, thanks to their
successes in World Championship competition.
run Ducati V-twin machinery, with strong support from
the Borgo Panigale-based Ducati Corse concern, the GSE
team has won four World Championship races in its own
right. Moreover, the ability to spot, support and develop
talent has seen three former GSE Racing riders promoted
to full factory status in Ducati’s World Superbike
team. Of even more significance, Troy Bayliss, Neil
Hodgson and now James Toseland have all gone on to ultimate
World Superbike success, with Hodgson and Toseland taking
their crowns only one season after their move from GSE
to the factory team.
Healey stated, “After one year out of racing our
hunger to return is evident in the attitude of the staff
and our new riders. Ducati has once more supplied us
with high-level machinery, for what looks like it will
be an even more competitive season than last year. We
are a British team, so racing at home, in one of the
most prestigious race series on earth, is an exciting
prospect for us all.”
Superbike Program Director, Paolo Ciabatti, added, “We
are really glad to be able to work again with GSE Racing.
Our relationship, which began in 1998, has been growing
stronger and stronger over the years and has brought
to Ducati many successes, thanks to the team’s
very professional management and to their ability to
select and motivate their riders. After one year of
absence from the racetracks, we are happy that GSE have
confirmed their loyalty to Ducati for their BSB comeback”.
The first round
of British Championship competition is scheduled for
March 26 – 28, at the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit,
a short hop from the GSE Group Headquarters, at Ashford
Bounces Back at Intermot with 2 Exciting New Bikes!
2004: Three years after an Italian court closed Bimota
and declared the company bankrupt the maker of some of
the most beautiful, expensive and desirable bikes in the
world has been revived with new management and new money.
At the recent Intermot show, Europe's biggest motorcycle
expo held in Munich, Germany last month, Bimota unveiled
a prototype, a new model and their current SB8K bike.
bike on which the tiny Rimini manufacturer is pinning
its hopes is the DB5, built around the Ducati 1000DS L-twin
motor that powers Ducati's 1000SS sports bike, the Multistrada
and the 1000 Monster
The bodywork has been kept to a minimum so you can see
the classic air-cooled motor.
Also unveiled was the Tesi 2D prototype powered by the
1000DS twin, but with the famous hub-centre steering system
designed by Bimota engineer Pierluigi Marconi in the late
1980s for his thesis – hence the name "Tesi". A
dream, re-interpreting Bimota1s traditional characteristics
which have left an indelible mark in the history of the
motorcycle, models such as the HB1, KB2 Laser, DB1 and
other designs which have never been forgotten by enthusiasts
all over the world.
shown was the SB8K which is the current and updated result
of Bimota's previous commitment with the Suzuki TL1000S
V-twin motor. It's painted in Anthony Gobert's colours
to commemorate his attack on the World Superbike championship
with the original SB8R. Now somewhat outdated, though
beautiful executed in the Bimota tradition, the SB8K will
have to carry the company until the DB5 becomes available.
Details and Photos HERE
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 22, 2004) -- AMA Pro Racing has released
its schedule for the 2005 AMA Superbike Championship. Highlights
include a round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in conjunction
with the MotoGP World Championship event and the debut of
a new track configuration for the Daytona 200.
“2005 is going to be an exciting year for fans of AMA
road racing,” said Scott Hollingsworth, AMA Pro Racing
CEO. “We’re looking forward to showcasing AMA
Superbikes alongside the exotic MotoGP bikes at Mazda Raceway
Laguna Seca as well as returning to all the other great tracks
that make up our championship. Plus, with five different riders,
on three brands of motorcycles winning AMA Superbike races
in 2004, the stage is set to see another closely contested
series next year.”
Event Coverage Here.
Plus join us for an exclusive visit to the Ducati Corse Race