Hodgson takes Ducati WSBK victory total to 199 with double win in Japan - two fourths for Ducati Fila teammate Xaus. Britain's Neil Hodgson scored Ducati's first victory in Japan since 1995 as he powered to his fifth and sixth wins of the season...
Hodgson takes Ducati WSBK victory total to 199 with double win in Japan - two fourths for Ducati Fila teammate Xaus.
Britain's Neil Hodgson scored Ducati's first victory in Japan since 1995 as he powered to his fifth and sixth wins of the season at the Sugo Sportsland circuit. Fellow Brit Carl Fogarty was the last rider to take the honours for the Italian manufacturer when he won race 2 in his 1995 championship-winning year. Neil's third successive double win of the year also took Ducati's total race win haul to 199 in 16 years of World Superbike.
Hodgson's superb start from the outside of row 2 helped him avoid the first corner pile-up that eliminated three top riders, Corser (Foggy Petronas), Walker (HM Plant Ducati) and Chili (PSG-1 Ducati). Hodgson then passed Laconi for the lead on lap 4 and took the chequered flag a comfortable 7 seconds ahead of the Frenchman. "If I hadn't got such a good start, I might have been involved in the crash" declared Neil, "so I was really pleased with my start. Because of the limited practice time in the dry, I'd only tried my race tyre once so I took things easy on the first lap and then in the middle I eased off a bit as well. We are on a brand-new bike and when you come to a new circuit, you've got no baseline settings so we had to work that bit harder than usual".
Hodgson was made to work much harder for his win in race 2. After swerving at the start to avoid Laconi (NCR Ducati) on the front row, he then took the lead on lap 5 from Lavilla. The Suzuki rider pressured him until lap 20 before Hodgson broke away to take his sixth successive win. "It was pretty scary at the start because Laconi almost stopped in front of me and I had to shut the throttle" declared Neil. "Gregorio gave me a hard time today, he kept the pressure on and his Suzuki and my Ducati were pretty evenly matched. Five laps to go I picked up the pace deliberately and that was enough. The old Neil Hodgson wouldn't have done that but I'm starting to use my head a bit now and administer the races better!".
Ruben Xaus came away from Sugo with two fourth places, which keep him in second place in the table. The Spanish rider was lucky not to get caught out in the first corner incident in race 1 and lost a lot of time. Then in race 2 he had a good start and moved into fourth on lap 9, a position he held to the flag after a great scrap with Toseland. "I started 12th and finished 4th twice today so that's quite good" declared Ruben. "I was really slow in the first split and it was here that I lost the race and the whole weekend. That was the only reason - between the second corner entry and third corner exit, everyone was faster than me. The bike felt mine today, and only today. In the warm-up we improved a lot and I had a better feeling with the bike in both races today. I think if I hadn't lost all that time in the first split, I could have been fighting with Lavilla and Chili for sure".