HODGSON COMPETITIVE IN BIRMINGHAM QUALIFYING FIGHT Leeds (Alabama) 21 April 2006: Parts Unlimited Ducati pilot Neil Hodgson qualified sixth in the first of two Birmingham Superbike Qualifying sessions on Friday, but the Isle of Man resident was...
HODGSON COMPETITIVE IN BIRMINGHAM QUALIFYING FIGHT
Leeds (Alabama) 21 April 2006: Parts Unlimited Ducati pilot Neil Hodgson qualified sixth in the first of two Birmingham Superbike Qualifying sessions on Friday, but the Isle of Man resident was less than one tenth off third place in a hotly contested battle. Teammate Ben Bostrom felt ill, but put his Ducati 999 in eighth spot nonetheless. On the day, the riders competed against each other and the weather as five spots inside the top ten were separated by just over half a second. Just as the session ended, the rains that had threatened the entire 50 minutes of qualifying and forced riders to go for their best times early finally fell.
"Not too bad, not too bad, really. It's hard work around here for us, as always," said the 2003 World Superbike Champion Hodgson. "It's close, and it's going to be a good season I think, better than last year. It's a shame the two Suzuki guys Mladin and Spies are out front a little bit. After those two guys, we have quite a level playing field out there. I'm pumped about the season and tomorrow. We have a direction we're going to go in for tomorrow and I'll be 'hell for leather', as they say, really going for it. I don't feel like I'm sixth in line, a million miles a way. I'm just a tenth or so off third. We're in the ballpark."
Bostrom struggled on Friday but put in a valiant effort to stay as close as he could to the leaders. The former series champ managed to get in quite a few laps despite his physical condition. "I was under the weather all day. I could barely do 1:28s in the morning, but I felt better in the afternoon and was able to cut a second and a half off the times," said Bostrom. "We'll need to cut another second and a half off tomorrow to the man on pole but we're not so far behind the others, fortunately. Tomorrow, we will go to work in the morning and try to jump up a few spots for qualifying. Then it's time to race!"
Tomorrow's 28-lap Superbike race begins at 3:50 local time.
Lap Times: 1. Mat Mladin, Suzuki 1:24.943 2. Ben Spies, Suzuki 1:25.139 3. Roger Hayden, Kawasaki 1:26.116 4. Miguel Duhamel, Honda 1:26.142 5. Jake Zemke, Honda 1:26.191 6. Neil Hodgson, Parts Unlimited Ducati 1:26.205 7. Tommy Hayden, Kawasaki 1:26.345 8. Ben Bostrom, Parts Unlimited Ducati 1:26.572 9. Aaron Yates, Suzuki 1:26.596 10. John Haner, Suzuki 1:27.043