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Hodgson crowns Assen weekend with race 2 win
7 September 2003
Newly crowned 2003 World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson completed what has been a dream week for the 29 year-old by taking victory in the second and final race of the day at Assen.
After the joys of becoming a father earlier this week and then finally securing his first riders title since the classic 2000 British Superbike campaign, Burnley born Hodgson and his factory Ducati teammate and race one winner Ruben Xaus once again crushed the opposition in another breathtaking display around the classic Dutch track.
Hodgson led all but a few hundred metres of the 16-laps around Assen's winding 6-kilometre layout with Xaus snapping feverishly at his heels all the way. On more than one occasion to two roaring 999F03's came within millimetres of making disastrous contact, with Xaus almost running over the rear wheel of Hodgson several times.
However on each occasion the lanky Spaniard manhandled his machine successfully out of Hodgson's path but only once actually made a move stick.
After allowing the Suzuki of Gregorio Lavilla to run along in tandem with them for the opening 13 laps, three blistering final tours by both Ducati men was enough to break the Alstare Corona rider's challenge while Hodgson kept his fastest lap of the day until last as he ensured that there would be no last lap antics from his excitable teammate.
Even more surprisingly considering their pace at the end of the race was the fact that neither Ducati rider suffered tyre worries, their Michelin's coping better with the abrasive Assen track than many of their Dunlop shod rivals.
Lavilla, and fourth and fifth place finishers Regis Laconi and Frankie Chili all had to seriously slow their pace on the final laps as their rear tyres started to disintegrate, while James Toseland's rear Dunlop gave up the ghost completely after 14 laps as he was running fourth.
British wildcard Leon Haslam was the main beneficiary of Toseland's demise, moving his Renegade Ducati into sixth position at the flag, comfortably ahead of Kawasaki Bertocchi's Ivan Clementi, a bruised Chris Walker, Troy Corser and tenth placed John Reynolds, who mysteriously dropped to the rear of the 26-bike starting field on lap two only to fight his way back on the lone Rizla Suzuki.
With the mortality rate much lower than in race one there were less opportunities for the remaining wildcards to sneak some points as Steve Martin, Mauro Sanchini, Marco Borciani and Lucio Pedercini finished 11th through 14th although the always-welcome Alex Gramigni continued his consistent weekend and snatched the last points paying position from Juan Borja.
Hodgson and the rest of the Fila Ducati team now have three whole weeks to recover from what will surely be a tremendous hangover on Monday morning before the series heads to Imola.
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