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Hodgson relishes familiar territory

Hodgson relishes familiar territory

Hodgson relishes familiar territory

The Marlboro Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang this weekend represents an all-too-rare opportunity for Neil Hodgson, who has spent the majority of the season learning new circuits. However, the former World Superbike Champion spent three days testing his Ducati Desmosedici GP3 here in the preseason and hopes the data gathered in that session can power him to a top ten finish on Sunday.

"It's a long track with a bit of everything, plus it's extra wide, so it takes a bit of time to figure out," says Hodgson. "It's quite physical, largely due to the heat and because there's quite a few fast sections with heavy braking, so you're always fighting against the g-forces. Motegi is the same - it looks simple on the map but all the braking into the hairpins makes it physically tough.

"The thing is that this bike is pretty lively on the brakes - you're trying to keep your weight back and both wheels in line, plus you're trying to keep breathing too. Breathing is a big thing in bike racing - you're so tense, especially during the race, that you're not always breathing and sometimes you don't realise that until it's too late.

"Maybe you've done half a dozen laps not breathing properly and you're finished because your muscles have pumped up. A lot of arm pump is due to not breathing properly.

"The sheer temperature at Sepang makes the track fairly hard on tyres, plus there's quite a few right-handers through which you're spinning a lot. The excessive heat also means that you don't get a lot of grip, you just have to get used to the thing sliding around a bit.

"You can spin the rear really easily out of all the turns. In fact, when I was trying to find my way around when I first went there last winter I could easily see the racing lines from all the black lines already laid on the tarmac!

"The front tyre gets quite a hard time too - you push the front a lot because there's a few fast, downhill off-camber sections. There's no particularly corner or series of corners which really make a difference to your lap times.

"At Sepang it's all about trying to put the whole lap together. That may sound like a cliché because that's what you have to do whatever track you're at but it's more so at Sepang because the circuit is so long.

"It's a track we already know because we tested there in February, but it was all new then and we were more focused on trying things out rather than getting to know the track, so I think I'll be more comfortable this time."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2004, MARLBORO MALAYSIAN MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX

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