Magny-Cours (France), 16 October 2003 : Neil Hodgson and Ruben Xaus (Ducati Fila) bring the 2003 World Superbike championship to a close this weekend as the season finale gets underway at the Formula 1 circuit of Magny-Cours in central France. Both Ducati Fila riders put in a day's tyre development testing last week at Magny-Cours, which has not been used for Superbikes since 1991, and judged the circuit to be interesting but very technical.
Hodgson, who clinched the title at Assen, aims to conclude his successful 2003 season on a high after suffering two defeats at the hands of team-mate Xaus at the Imola round. "The track is very stop-start" he declared. "It's a little bit twisty and you just seem to get going and then you're into another hairpin and then you get on the gas again and you're into another hairpin. There are some really slow corners - it's very Formula One in that respect I guess. It's similar to Silverstone in that most of the run-off areas are tarmac which is ok if you spin out in a car but you slide forever if you're on a bike. I really want to finish the season on a high note and we already have a good base starting-point after last week's test."
Xaus, whose superb end-of-season run helped him to finish runner-up in the championship, was of the same opinion but said that he expected the two races to be as spectacular as ever. "The track is a bit technical but we didn't have much time to test there on Friday as it was wet in the morning and then windy in the afternoon. The racing will probably be pretty close and spectacular like almost all the races this year and you can pass in many places, but you need to find a good line to set good times. For two wheels the track could create a few problems, because there are a lot of hairpins where you need to brake really hard."
CIRCUIT: After the demolition of the Jean Behra circuit in 1988, a new motor sport complex was built at Nevers Magny-Cours and in 1990 a contract was signed for the organization of the French F1 Grand Prix, after which the circuit was revamped and modernized. World Superbike is actually making its second visit to Magny-Cours: the first was in 1991, when Texan Doug Polen scored two wins for Ducati on the old circuit .