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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Article from Crash.net


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.


I know it is just early testing but I hope doesn't even get top ten finishes or at least that Xaus places better than him. :redflip
 

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From MotoGP.com.. It will be pretty dam funny if Xaus beats Hodgson this year... I personally don't think either deserve to be there. But then again, I don't think Cleatus, or Shane should be either. Seems as though if you win anything in any other race series as of late you will be considered for the pinnacle of racing.

World Superbike Champion Neil Hodgson gives motograndprix.com 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.
 

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Neil is gonna get his ass handed to him.

Along with all the other non italians in the class
 

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scott_b said:
You've said this several times. I'm curious to know what you think makes someone "deserve" to be in MotoGP?
+1
If they've won their top national title(Shane, Nicky) or a World Championship(Neil) why shouldn't they be able to step up to MotoGP to SEE if they have what it takes. I mean, not everyone can be Mladin, becoming the biggest fish in a small, by comparison, pond, never to venture up to the big show after honing the skills to the right level. Xaus may be another story, but he is another case of a rider with the right pasport, so he gets a shot. It happens:shrug
 

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I think that ever since the premier class has moved to four strokes, the exclusivity of choosing more accomplished riders has diminished somewhat. I feel that typically this was because it took a lot more skill/balls to tame the wild two strokes. There are, of course, lots of examples of riders that came from non two stroke classes a la Doohan, that became successful in 500cc racing, but it was more the exception rather than the rule it seems. I would be willing to speculate that now it has gone the other way. The reluctance has shifted towards two stroke riders and away from superbike and other similar classes. Anyone else think that this is what has happened?
 

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Zoomie said:
The reluctance has shifted towards two stroke riders and away from superbike and other similar classes. Anyone else think that this is what has happened?
I agree completely. The 4 stroke has to be ridden so much different than a 2 stroke, I think it puts guys racing FIM 125cc and 250cc classes at somewhat of a disadvantage. With those bikes it's all about corner speed, keeping up your momentum. We heard Nicky talking this past season about having to learn how to ride in more of a point and shoot method instead of trying to carry corner speed. He came off a superbike, so you know it has to be even more difficult for someone coming off one of the 2 stroke machines.

To add to this a little bit, one of the guys in T.W.O, says that in the next couple of years Dorna will steal the world supersport class from superbike and have it instead of the 2 smoke classes. :shrug
 

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scott_b said:
You've said this several times. I'm curious to know what you think makes someone "deserve" to be in MotoGP?
Well maybe because I started watching racing when GP racing was the pinnacle... It's not that it isn't any more... But for god's sakes... Kurtis Roberts and Xaus. This is supposed to be the best riders in the world. Maybe they are also, but at least prove you have what it takes by winning some stuff elsewhere. I mean yeah Cleatus won Formula Xtreme and Supersport... But only finally this year won a superbike race, and now he's going to the baddest racing class in the world?

Hodgson is a great rider, but I think his title was given to him. He was an also-ran when he raced superstars... Yet he's going to a class with all superstars.

Just to clarify, I think Mladin is a pussy also. :)

It's strictly my opinion, not saying I'm right or wrong. It just looks like the GP class is changing right before our eyes.
 

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Ian said:
Well maybe because I started watching racing when GP racing was the pinnacle... It's not that it isn't any more... But for god's sakes... Kurtis Roberts and Xaus. This is supposed to be the best riders in the world. Maybe they are also, but at least prove you have what it takes by winning some stuff elsewhere. I mean yeah Cleatus won Formula Xtreme and Supersport... But only finally this year won a superbike race, and now he's going to the baddest racing class in the world?

Hodgson is a great rider, but I think his title was given to him. He was an also-ran when he raced superstars... Yet he's going to a class with all superstars.

Just to clarify, I think Mladin is a pussy also. :)

It's strictly my opinion, not saying I'm right or wrong. It just looks like the GP class is changing right before our eyes.

There have always been riders in the GP class who hadn't proven themselves before going to that class. The teams grow their talent through "lesser" series such as AMA, BSB, WSS, etc. The teams have people at every tire test and every race with these riders. They know what kind of feed back each rider gives, how each rider handles an ill handling bike,what kind of potential riders have, etc, etc. But you watch them on TV, so you know much more in depth whether they "deserve" to be there or not. :beat **** Doohan only had two WSBk wins and a few wins in the Australian Endurance class. He's a now a five time champion, and was touted as the greatest ever before Rossi came along. For those five championships he didn't race agianst any big names. :shrug He always finished behind Rainey and Schwantz before they retired, so I guess he was "an also-ran when he raced superstars".



Back on topic, yes Hodgson probably will get his ass handed to him. Hell, if he doesn't, then changing classes, motorcycles, teams, tracks, etc isn't as difficult as everyone else has made it look.
 

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I think Hodgson will indeed "have his ass handed to him", but not from the competition. That bike will want to spit him off at every moment. Both Loris and Troy had to be 'on' at all times just to stay in the race last year. There is no questioning the fact that this years bike will be more manageable to last year, but I think comparatively, it is still a snarling beast. Neil will have accomplished something if he 1) finishes races; and 2) finishes races with even a little rubber left on the tires.
 

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Cesj,

The difference between WSB and MotoGP bikes shouldn't be underestimated. I assume you're somewhat of a CE fan. You might want to read this

http://www.amasuperbike.com/2003-Dec/031212a.htm

Specifically the part

...A new set of forks installed at mid-day inspired confidence in the Texan and he instantly dropped half a second from his lap time, then consistently lapped in the mid 1:33's, the fastest he'd ever been around the 4.005 kilometer circuit. "They're basically World Superbike forks," Edwards said. "Put it on there and went half a second faster in two laps and kept it there..."
I'll bet Neil is on the pace with the rest of the MotoGP rookies when the season starts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Neil was always on pace towards the begining look at all the WSBK SuperPoles he won. But he fades inot the distance once the race starts. Lots of those racers can go fast during qualifiing on special tires but when it really mattered when Colin:) and Troy were there he was in the back.
 

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It's going to be like any other year for Neil. Well, other than last year. He's going to be a decent rider on year old machinery. How can he possibly beat out the RCV's, '04 Ducs and hopefully Rossi??? He can't, and neither can Xaus. Anyone riding year old bikes on a B team is already out of the hunt. You either have the latest and greatest, or you run mid pack it seems anymore. That's why I'm totally loving Honda's decision this year. Let's see which of the 6 riders really is the best out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sete didnt do too bad on the B team bike last year. you would think that the Ducatis will probably be using the same equipment since they want to make such a good showing at all races.
 

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Sete didn't do too bad on the B team after he inherited Kato's fully supported bike. But it's almost impossible to go by the Honda's last year. Does anyone really know what any rider other than Rossi had? I was under the impression that Sete had the second best bike, but that could be wrong. I know Nicky wasn't on the latest and greatest cause he was still learning. And according to Max, he never has a competetive bike.:rolleyes Maybe Ducati is going to throw some '04 parts on Hodgson's bike, I don't know. But he will be on last years machine. And that has to be a disadvantage right from the start. Ahh, just wish there was some testing or something going on. It's been boring since everyone went on the hoiday break.:(
 

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I take it you forgot how long Colin was in the WSB class before he won ought? Or that one of the greatest 500 champions (Kenny) had won booger all on a world level before he went to gps and won his title?

Just in case you forgot also, when Neil was racing Troy and Colin in 2002 he was on year old equipment (and as has already been pointed out Sete only came into his own when he got Katoh's works bike).

Also no-one out there seems to remember that the fastest people on 500s (certainly in recent times), people like **** Doohan went fast because they carried less corner speed than people like Biaggi but got the bike upright as earlier as possible to be able to use the power. A point of interest by the way - Doohan was kicking arse in 1992 till he had the accident at Assen - absolutely miles infront of both Rainey and Schwantz.

Still if Neil's not worthy I take it you're ready to step up to the mark? Or are u proposing someone else?
 

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Ducati_Killer said:
I take it you forgot how long Colin was in the WSB class before he won ought? Or that one of the greatest 500 champions (Kenny) had won booger all on a world level before he went to gps and won his title?

Just in case you forgot also, when Neil was racing Troy and Colin in 2002 he was on year old equipment (and as has already been pointed out Sete only came into his own when he got Katoh's works bike).

Also no-one out there seems to remember that the fastest people on 500s (certainly in recent times), people like **** Doohan went fast because they carried less corner speed than people like Biaggi but got the bike upright as earlier as possible to be able to use the power. A point of interest by the way - Doohan was kicking arse in 1992 till he had the accident at Assen - absolutely miles infront of both Rainey and Schwantz.

Still if Neil's not worthy I take it you're ready to step up to the mark? Or are u proposing someone else?
Hodgson was impressive in '02, especially given that he was on the same Dunlops as BBoz on a brand-new bike. Myself, I don't think he's going to do very well. Certainly better than Xaus, but I doubt he'll match the pace of the present Duc riders.

Also, your point about corner speed is right on. I was going to mention that earlier in the thread but didn't want to spend all that energy posting. :) Bikes with this much power get from point to point by using all that power. 250gp racing tecniques are useless (ask Biaggi, all-time king of 250s). The only real advantage a 250 rider has now is knowing the tracks, the organization, and probably the teams. I think someone coming from WSB has more advantage knowing the bikes than a 250 rider.

As for the last bit, we're all keyboard jockeys and trying to tell someone else he's not able to hack GP is pretty fucking pointless. We all are the swamp gas that make people like Rossi and CEII shine.
 
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