Crash.Net WSBK News
Silverstone action sees Hodgson fight all the way
16 June 2003
Once more Neil Hodgson had to fight all the way for victory, but once more the result was the same as the Brit notched up his eleventh win of the 2003 season and now stands 130 points clear atop the riders' championship table.
Starting from pole at Silverstone for the second race of the day in the World Superbike championship, Hodgson made a poor move away from the line and was swamped by his rivals as he fell back as far as tenth as the bike rounded the first turn at the Silverstone circuit. Star in race one, Yukio Kagayama, was right in the thick of it and leading a rather different looking World Superbike field around the venue of the British Formula One Grand Prix.
By the first split the top ten flew past Kagayama, Laconi, Reynolds, Lavilla, Rutter, Toseland, Xaus, Walker, Hodgson and Emmett; not your usual World Superbike line-up. Reigning champ Hodgson would clearly have his work to do if he was to figure in this race.
Frenchman Regis Laconi clearly was enjoying running near the front, and by the next split the Frenchman had taken Japanese star Kagayama for the lead. By the end of the lap the field was still tightly packed but Hodgson was back in ninth place. Team-mate Ruben Xaus was the man on the move for the following lap, taking first Lavilla then setting about attacking John Reynolds. Further down the field Hodgson had also decided that overtaking was the Ducati-Fila way and found his way past Chris Walker and then looked for a way past James Toseland.
As Xaus continued his attach and tried for the outside of British Superbike regular John Reynolds the Rizla Suzuki rider decided to close the gap rather abruptly. As Xaus was forced to run wide from the track and over the grass so Reynolds realised the tactic had backfired on him as he reached for the brake lever and realised that it had been affected in the incident. The Brit fell back swiftly through the field then into the pits for some rectification work to the bike, back on track Reynolds was to come home an eventual tenth place, which could have all so easily been better were it not for an altercation with the lanky Spaniard.
Further back Hodgson continued his march to the front, and made surprisingly rapid progress past James Toseland, amazingly the only other man to have won a race in the series this year. Nevertheless, Hodgson despatched his former team-mate with seemingly little fuss.
Meanwhile Gregorio Lavilla decided it was time to start making moves again, just as he had done in race one, and courtesy of fastest lap, a new lap record at that, on lap three, Lavilla went to the head of the field. Regis Laconi took the place right back, but Lavilla ultimately won that battle. With Lavilla up front Laconi found himself embroiled in battle for second with Kagayama. Unnoticed by these frontrunners was that Neil Hodgson was right with them.
First to notice Hodgson's presence was Kagayama on lap six when Hodgson took the Japanese rider going into Maggots. Next time round Hodgson tried the same trick on Laconi, but the Frenchman took the place immediately back. By the end of lap eight Hodgson had Laconi lined up to take him going into Copse at the end of the pit straight. Almost immediately Hodgson went into the lead having taken Lavilla for the lead. Laconi then decided the lead should be his, taking Lavilla then Hodgson through Abbey.
Hodgson was right back on the case and forced his way past Laconi into Stowe. The Frenchman, unable to make the corner with the championship leader on his line, was forced wide, but was soon back in the action, albeit further down the field.
Now, once more, the battle was Lavilla and Hodgson. Lavilla would push the Englishman hard but ultimately it would be Hodgson to the line for his second victory of the day
Come the chequered flag Hodgson headed Lavilla and Xaus, the Spaniard having fought his way back to the podium after his earlier off.
Afterwards Hodgson described his race. “Pole position's not a good place to be in really, because you're on the outside and if you get an average start off the line then there's nowhere to go as everyone comes underneath you,” he said. As for working his way through the field? “It was hard, I just kept thinking pick one off a lap, don't get too carried away, I was trying to keep my eye on the leaders to make sure that no-one was getting away, and then luckily for me John Reynolds and Rubens collided, which were two people who were going to be difficult to pass, but that got rid of them.
“What happened in the first race, and it happened again in the second was that everyone was driving very aggressively, everybody was braking really deep, it was making people almost impossible to pass,” Hodgson continued. “It's been really, really difficult as I've been ill all weekend as you know, I'm not trying to come down with the old soldier the – oh what a hero Neil was – but I've struggled this weekend physically. I'm dedicating my double win to David Jeffries.”
Lavilla meanwhile was pleased, but eying that first place all the same. “I knew Neil would be quicker in the last laps but I thought I could keep the pace, in some areas he was quicker than me, then in some areas I thought I was better, but I couldn't do it,” said the Spaniard. “I would prefer to be in the first place but I think that sooner or later it will arrive.”