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Neil Hodgson updates on a hectic week

Neil Hodgson updates on a hectic week

Neil Hodgson updates on a hectic week

World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson gives his impressions after a week in which he made his debut appearance on the Desmosedici at the Valencia tests and also short-listed for the prestigious BBC Sport personality of the year award.

"It was my first time on the Ducati GP bike at Valencia and the weather was not that great. We had a few technical teething problems that have come from being with a new team. The bike feels different. Like any rider will tell you being on two wheels your sensation with the bike is everything, so while I don't feel like I had jumped into a formula one car or anything, it has taken a little while to get used to.

I have taken things very slow because I do not want to make a mistake. It is like I am almost learning to ride again. I am trying to understand the bike and what it is capable of. It helped that the first test was at Valencia; if it was a place I did not know then I might have been very difficult. I feel like I have already made 2 million laps around here so I know how what a bike should be doing.

The basic setting of the bike is completely different. With a superbike you are sat ‘in' the bike and it moves around a bit more which gives you a lot of feeling. With this machine I am perched on top and didn't quite get that depth of sensation after the first day or two. I didn't change anything on the bike the first session and just rode round in circles; it got a little easier once we started playing around with the suspension.

Obviously the Desmosedici has got more power but you cant notice a huge difference, especially when I have got my foot on the back brake to stop it wheeling; I am probably killing 50 horsepower! I am treating the bike with a lot of respect and slowly making friends with it.
It is different on the entry to the corners; coming out it feels the same. I knew where the limit was on a Superbike going into the turns and that is what I am trying to find now, at least get some feedback.

The new team is mega and everyone speaks English, which is helping me to settle in. It is difficult when you get a whole load of new people together for them to gel on the first day but everybody is getting on and there is a good atmosphere in the garage which is great.

This probably one of the best tests I have ever had because every time I go out I start from where I left off. I reach a time, come in a change something, hit that time right away and go a bit quicker and that's what I have been doing throughout really. I've started steady and well off the pace but I am happy; one step at a time at the moment. This is the start of a long process of trying to understand what it is going to take to be competitive at this level and the last few weeks have been frustrating because I wanted to get on with it. I'm currently at like 3% and I need to get to 100%. Winning the World Superbike title was important to me but I know that this is the next level; win this and you know you are the best.

Just to be nominated for the BBC award is a great thing because in comparison to sports like football, rugby and cricket, motorcycle racing is in the minority. I knew I didn't have a chance of winning it for that reason but it is great for motorcycling that I made the shortlist and the appearance on the show.

MotoGP, 2003

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