Neil Hodgson has admitted that the Ducati Desmosedici, which he will race in the 2004 MotoGP world championship, is so different from anything he's ever ridden before that he's got to 'learn to ride again'.

The reigning World Superbike champion threw his leg over of the 2003-spec machine for the first time at Valencia last week, and - after surviving an oil scare on his first lap - went on to set a best time of 1min 35.15secs over the three days.

That left him ninth fastest of the eleven race riders' present - 2.3secs behind pace setter Max Biaggi, and ahead of only Aprilia's Shane Byrne and Proton KR's Nobuatsu Aoki.

Hodgson was also 0.5secs behind D'Antin team-mate Ruben Xaus, and while the Brit's plan was never to set scorching lap times, he admitted the prototype V4 will take some getting used to - although power isn't the main problem at the moment.

"My god, that was so different!" said Neil of the Desmosedici (pictured). "It's really like having to learn to ride a bike again; the front of the bike seems so different to what I'm used to.

"I actually thought it would be a little easier to ride but the power really pushed the front-end a lot more than on my Superbike," he explained. "The power is so smooth and instant that it actually gives you a lot of feel on the rear end, there's no lag at all. So I never felt like I was going to high-side the bike but found that the front seemed really alien to me."

Off the machine, the test also allowed Hodgson the chance to work with new boss Luis D'Antin and his team, with positive first impressions.

"Team D'Antin seemed really, really good and we seemed to gel straight away so we never had any problems there," he declared.

 

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