HODGSON WITHIN THREE POINTS OF CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD AFTER FONTANA PODIUM (FONTANA, CA, April 30) Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin's Neil Hodgson came very close to his first ever AMA Superbike win on Saturday at California Speedway, finishing a...
HODGSON WITHIN THREE POINTS OF CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD AFTER FONTANA PODIUM
(FONTANA, CA, April 30) Parts Unlimited Ducati Austin's Neil Hodgson came very close to his first ever AMA Superbike win on Saturday at California Speedway, finishing a close third after leading the race on the final lap. Hodgson, despite an illness, fought for the win before running his Ducati 999 wide in turn three. The 2003 World Champion regrouped to take third position, 2.977 seconds behind the winner. Eric Bostrom showed his return to form and finished fifth on his 999 after leading the race in the early stages.
Hodgson, who still maintains second in the series standings after four races and has been on the podium for three of them, explained what happened on the last lap after the exciting but chaotic race. "Honestly, I went through the chicane at the start of the last lap a gear too high. I couldn't do anything about it but it catapulted me into the next turn. I braked where I had been for every lap, but I was going maybe five miles an hour faster and I couldn't get it stopped. The tires were shot at that stage, on the last lap of a hard race. You just try to drift it into the corner ... I was just a passenger and the race was over. I couldn't believe what happened and I was devastated. That's racing and I've done it before and I'll probably do it again one day. We've all done it, we all push hard and it's not easy."
While Hodsgon was disappointed in missing an opportunity to share a victory with the Ducati faithful, his effort in the 28-lap race stopped twice for red flags is to be commended. "I was actually sick in my helmet about race distance," said Hodgson. "Yesterday I felt like death. Today I felt a hundred times better but I don't feel good. I'm hoping to get a good night's sleep and feel better tomorrow."
For the team, the long-term goal of the AMA championship remains in sight, even if an opportunity for a win eluded them today. "It was very exciting at the end. Neil was doing a tremendous job of riding his heart out. He tried to do his best to keep the other riders behind him, he just went in a little too hot and missed the turn," said team manager Tom Bodenbach. "We've had faith we could do it, but maybe this is a little proof."
Eric Bostrom took the lead at the start and diced with the frontrunners. "All weekend long, we've gone quicker with less effort but in the race I didn't have quite the speed everyone else had. We had a great start in the first part of the race before the red flags. I went into the lead for a little while. I just wish we could maintain that speed. We'll definitely try something tomorrow to get some more grip."
Tomorrow's Superbike race begins at 3:00PM local time.