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Fontana: Ducati Austin preview

PARTS UNLIMITED DUCATI AUSTIN TEAM TAKES ON AMA CHALLENGERS AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY (Fontana, CA - April 27th): The Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin team heads to California Speedway in Fontana, California, for the third race meeting of the season...

PARTS UNLIMITED DUCATI AUSTIN TEAM TAKES ON AMA CHALLENGERS AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY

(Fontana, CA - April 27th): The Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin team heads to California Speedway in Fontana, California, for the third race meeting of the season this weekend. Neil Hodgson is currently second in the AMA Superbike points on the basis of two second place finishes and is looking to close ground at the 2.3-mile circuit. Eric Bostrom is aiming to improve his 2005 fortunes at a track he favors. Bostrom finished second in both Cal Speedway races last year and enjoyed a solid test on his Ducati 999 Superbike earlier this month.

"I know Fontana will be better for us," says Bostrom. "Fontana's going to be good. The test went well and the race is going to go even better. We've been trying a lot of different things out on the bike and I liked how the front felt at Barber when we chose some stiffer settings. I'm just going to put the past behind me and look to run up front at the California Speedway. The Ducati 999 seems to suit me well at that track."

"I'm confident Eric will do well at Fontana," says team engineer Luca Ferraccioli. "He was second in both the races last year and was very good at the test. He's been making progress and is working well with the team on improving his lap times."

So far, Neil Hodgson and Ducati have proven to be the strongest competition for the factory Suzuki squad this season at the front end of the AMA Superbike pack. Despite his newcomer status in the US, Neil has shown consistency in learning the tracks, then coming through with quality results in the races. Despite a virtual washout on Friday at Barber that limited his track time, Neil was back on the podium by the end of the weekend.

Hodgson says the team made headway for Sunday's Barber race when a setup change helped make the 999 more manouverable in the tighter sections of the track. "We made the bike go a lot faster through the flip-flop bends. I was really happy with that and I was pleased with how the bike turned. If nothing else, we learned something (at Barber) that might help us at other tracks," says Hodgson, the 2003 World Superbike champion.

The Fontana race will be the closest the 31-year-old Briton has to a "home" race this season, his first year in AMA competition. Hodgson is staying in Laguna Beach this season when he's not racing at the track. Neil has quickly become a fan favorite in his short time in the US.

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after 3 of 17 races): 1. Mat Mladin (Suzuki) 113; 2. NEIL HODGSON (PARTS UNLIMITED DUCATI AUSTIN 999) 91; 3. Ben Spies (Suzuki) 87; 4. Aaron Yates (Suzuki) 82; 5. Miguel DuHamel (Honda) 78; 6. ERIC BOSTROM (PARTS UNLIMITED DUCATI AUSTIN 999) 20.

THE CIRCUIT Name: California Speedway 2.36 miles (3.7 kilometers), 21 turns. Oval with permanent road course, with up to 14 degrees of banking.

-www.ducatiaustin.com

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About this article
Series AMA
Drivers Aaron Yates , Eric Bostrom , Neil Hodgson , Ben Spies