Neil Hodgson moved a step closer to full time top-level racing after landing the job of official Bridgestone test rider for the Ducati MotoGP team, and makes his debut on the firm’s 800cc GP7 imminently.
2003 WSB champ Hodgson was left out in the cold for 2007 after he couldn’t land the ride he wanted with Xerox Ducati in WSB.
He is now set to take over from injured Bridgestone Ducati tester Shinichi Itoh, in a move which puts him right back in the loop with one of the top teams in MotoGP.
This could prove critical to lining up a full-time ride next year, or getting the chance to race this year as a supersub.
Hodgson’s pulling power is still huge, being mobbed by fans when he appeared at Donington for the 20th anniversary celebrations at the weekend.
Speaking exclusively to MCN, Hodgson said: “I’m well chuffed for a couple of reasons. Number one is that I want to ride a bike as soon as I can and number two is that no matter how much training you do, there is no substitute for doing laps, which I’ll be doing lots of in testing.
“It’s a great opportunity to get really dialled in so that if the need arises to fill in for someone injured, I’ll be ready.”
Hodgson will get to ride the new generation 800 which should suit his high corner-speed, smooth precise riding style.
He said: “I’m excited to get the chance to ride one of the 800s. I watched the first GP, never really thinking I’d get a chance to ride one.
“Looking at the way they work I know I’ll go better on a bike like that than one that’s really loose and sliding everywhere.”
Marlboro Ducati boss, Livio Suppo, added: “Neil was an obvious choice given his availability. He is well known by Ducati and has lots of experience of different bikes and tyres.”