After a few weeks in the rumor mill and a dismissal maiden season in MotoGP, Neil Hodgson has finally been officially named the second Ducati Austin rider. The Brit will ride alongside Eric Bostrom. Bostrom campaigned the Ducati Austin factory-backed F04 V-Twin in 2004 with little success except for a win at PPIR.
One of the biggest challenges for Bostrom and Ducati was tires. Though Michelin provided them with premium rubber, Dunlop, their competitor, has had years of experience racing successfully in the AMA series.
The hope is that Hodgson, who won the WSBK crown for Ducati in 2003, will be able to help Bostrom cope with the power delivery of the big V-Twin and with the wear characteristics of the Michelins.
Hodgson is very much looking forward to the challenge. If successful, Hodgson would become the first-ever to do the SuperBike hat trick.
Hodgson said: "Having had a disappointing experience in MotoGP, it's such a relief to be back where I belong with Ducati Corse. 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!".
With the Suzuki team already testing their 2004 weapon and Honda having a year's worth of development on the powerful CBR1000RR, the challenge for Hodgson cannot be overstated.