Neil Hodgson: In his own words

Published: 25 February 2002

Jo d: You were very pleased with the Philip Island test but seemed more frustrated during the Valencia test. Do you think this is essentially down to your style being incompatible with the circuit rather than a more wide-ranging problem?

NeilHodgson: Erm, yes. I think you've hit the nail on the head there. I do have a slight problem with the set-up of the bike, but I think it's more a case of my riding style and my dislike of that particular circuit. That's where the problem is.

Matt: Do you think that all the hype surrounding Chris Walker and yourself may be having an effect on his already low self confidence?

NeilHodgson: Possibly...I certainly don't think it will be helping. He's obviously got a lot of problems, that I'm sure he will overcome but it's just gonna take a little time. Certainly, for me, all the hype just made things worse rather than better.

Jo d: You've had a lot of success at the Donington rounds of WSBK in the last 2 years, how do you feel now that Silverstone is on the calendar instead? Will you get chance to test there before the race & do you have any data for the track?

NeilHodgson: Well, I'm disappointed that Donington is going because it's a fantastic circuit, and I won't get to test there before hand, which is a bit of a shame, but I do like Silverstone. I've never been on the full circuit, but we've already got some data from the short circuit. So any advantage is an advantage, and so we've got a small advantage.

Gse996r: Which track will be your favourite to race on?

NeilHodgson: I know it sounds a bit boring, but it'll have to be Brands Hatch, just because the track is awesome and the support is awesome. It's just a great feeling all round (apart from the pressure!).

Djread: Neil, do you plan to do a follow up to last years book?

NeilHodgson: No...It was a bit of a one off really, just a diary of the season, so people could get a rough idea of what goes on. Short term there's no plans to do a sequel but never say never. I enjoyed doing the book, and it sold well, and I’ve had a good response from most of the people that read it. It's just a shame that most people now realise, I'm a moody B'stard!

David: Do you have any specific exercises to strengthen muscle groups that you only use when riding your superbike? If so, what are they?

NeilHodgson: No, not really. Motocross is the best thing I'd say

Kebabmann: I remember last year after the Valencia test you said the aprilias were absolutely the fastest bikes in a straight line, rocketships... is Haga's as quick this year and how is he adapting to it after years on four-pots?

NeilHodgson: Well, my comment is the same, the Aprilia was the fastest bike definitely, and Haga was fast on it, I have to say. He looked very fast, but it looks like the bike is built for that circuit, so hopefully he's just compatible with that circuit and bike

David: Do you think James Toseland will be able to win a race this year, or at least get a podium finish?

NeilHodgson: I think he'll definitely be able to get a podium finish. With regards to winning, I'm not 100 per cent sure. You need a real good set up, and a bit of luck, and a lot of ability, so I’m not sure he's ready to take that step, but it is possible. Nobody thought I was going to win in 2000, but I did!

Nicholaskhood272: How do you think (now that you're married) it will affect your riding this year? Does the wife really support it?

NeilHodgson: Yeah, totally, 100 percent. I'm just hoping it makes me a little bit faster. Cos now I've only got half the money I used to have. So I'm sure it will be a good motivator!

Si noke: What are your aims for the up-coming season?

NeilHodgson: Same as always really...to try and win the championship. At this point it's what I truly want and believe is possible and we'll take it from there basically. I've got to try and win out of the UK, which I've never done, so my short term goal is to win out of the UK.

Kebabmann: What is the speed deficit between your 996 and the works 998rs this time round?

NeilHodgson: At Valencia in a straight line, it didn't seem like anything, nothing, so far. So, so far, so good. I just hope they don't develop their bikes from this point

Atom: David coultard said he goes better in a F1 race after nookie..do you think this idea would work with you in WSB?

NeilHodgson: I've tried it on a few occasions, and it doesn't make a different. I'm always consistently slow!

Sproket: Hi Neil - What kind of food do you eat before a race?

NeilHodgson: In the morning I eat porridge, and then before the first race I eat a banana and some fig roles, and then in between races, pasta with tomato sauce on with some fig roles and that's about it on race day

Jpierpoint: Neil, does competing on a GP1 bike feature in your short term goals?

NeilHodgson: No. Not in my short term goals. Possibly long term, but not short term.

Andynlou: Neil - What would you7 recommend as a good way to introduce kids to competative motor sport?

NeilHodgson: Erm... I'd suggest buying them a bike as early as you possibly can, say about 5, 6 years old. If you can introduce them to little automatic bikes, and then introdue them after a year to a bike with gears... and then give them a couple of years and if they are enjoying it, ask them if THEY want to compete. The secret is to make sure they want to do it, because a lot of parents want them to do it more than the kids do.

Alanmcgregor: Hi Neil, how is your Dad? I heard he was unwell?

NeilHodgson: He's fine. He's really, really well, thanks.

Mirjam: How many more years do you think you will race bikes and will you come back to the racing in the UK like Nial Mac did ?

NeilHodgson: Well, I'd say that I've got 5 years, hopefully, at the top level. That's my plan, and then in five years time I'll re-evaluate the situation. But I'm going to give everything in the next five years, and then possibly I'll be burnt out because I started when I was 16, and in five years I'll be 33. So I might not comeback to England, it'll depend. If I still want to race bikes, it'd be something I'd like to do, cos I like racing in the UK cos the circuits are very good, and you don't have to travel too far.

David: Do you have any special mental exercises that you do to improve your concentration and mental control? If so what are they?

NeilHodgson: No. If anybody can recommend some can you recommend them to me, cos I'm getting more and more mental with every year that goes by. I've found sleeping seems to work for me though!

Kebabmann: It looks like Bostrom has porked up a bit too over winter, which should help you?

NeilHodgson: He hasn't actually. It's the total opposite. I spoke to him and he's lost a lot of weight. He looked like he'd lost at least a stone I'd say when I spoke to him. But Haga-san still looks fat!

Woollen: Do you think Xaus will win anything this year?

NeilHodgson: I think Xaus will definitely win a race, or a couple of races, but I don't think he'll win the championship.

Jpierpoint: How much of a worry are the wild cards riders at each race? Do you ever think of them skittling you off and possibly wrecking a title bid?

NeilHodgson: Erm, I don't actually think about it too much. It's just another person to race with, and if you're in a situation, where maybe in Japan, somebody is riding way too dangerous, and above their own ability, then that's when you reassess the situation and think about giving them a wide berth, but it's not something I think about really.

Icorbett: Any plans for going into management after your racing career

NeilHodgson: Not short term…not really thought that much about it. Like I say I'm going to try and focus the next five years, and I'm going to be single minded in my goal of trying to win the championship. I'll sit and watch and see how Foggy gets on first!

Jpierpoint: Do you think Walker will be given the time to overcome the problems?

NeilHodgson: Yeah, I think so. I think Kawasaki gave me plenty of time. Unfortunately the time they gave me I managed to hang myself with! I don't think they'll sack him or anything like that. He's not that much far off the pace, and I'm sure Chris is more of a racer than a practicer, so I'm sure that when it comes to the race he'll be fine, don't worry.

Melissabond: Do u like Ducatis better than any other bike?

NeilHodgson: Absolutely. The bike actually has been made for me...

Rotten: Neil how is the team weight loss going? Is Troy still winning?

NeilHodgson: God...I don't think so no...but I think Dave and Colin, and Stuart, are managing to do a better job. I think Troys diet only lasted a week

Ive: Hi Neil - what round (outside the UK) are you looking forward to the most this year?

NeilHodgson: I'd say Laguna Seca, because I like the circuit, and I just love Monterrey where the circuit is. It's just a fantastic place, with a good climate and fantastic people. And I need to get my revenge on Bostrom!

Alanmcgregor: What do you think of the Foggy Petronas project? Do you think it'll be competitive by the end of the seasom?

NeilHodgson: Er, no, not by the end of the season, but given time, maybe for the following year, possibly. I don't know much about it, well, as much as anyone else, no inside information. But it’s if they have got the money, which is always going to be a massive issue.

Rupert28: Are all your sponsorship worries all sorted now??

NeilHodgson: Yep. 100 percent.

Deanp: Which riders from the current British classes do you think have potential on the World stage?

NeilHodgson: Well, the obvious one is Steve Hislop and John Reynolds and then after that... If we're talking about superbikes I'm not too sure really. I think they're the best riders in the class really. But every year someone shines and hopefully this year there will be two or three riders, maybe Shakey Byrne, Rutter or whoever, who’ll maybe take it to the next level.

Nicholaskhood272: With regards to Laguna Seca, how scary is that corkscrew turn? It looks mental on TV.

NeilHodgson: It's only scary the first few times you go down it, and then once you know where the track goes it's just fantastic. It's one of the best sections in the world I'd say

Ive: How’s the motorhome going? - Still a bit dodgy? Or is it a VIP jet this year?

NeilHodgson: I haven't got a VIP Jet! I've still got the motorhome. I'm 100 percent confident that all the small problems I've had, I've had and won't be having again. I think I was just unlucky cos a couple of them were total freak accidents, and it probably doesn't help that I drive flat out from a to b in it. So I'm just looking forward to getting back in it.

Jpierpoint: There always seems to be a bit dispute over rider ages! How old do you think a. Walker and b. Shakey Byrne are?

NeilHodgson: Well, I'm 100 percent confident because I've been in court with Chris Walker, and he had to give his date of birth, and he had to give his real one… and Chris is 32 at the end of this month. And Shakey Byrne, well, he's the oldest looking 22/23 year old I've ever seen, and I think he's been around a while but that's my personal opinion and I've no idea how old he is.

But I can't see the point in people lying around their ages. It seems really petty, especially when most of the paddock will know the truth. It seems really bizarre. But I could tell you everyone's ages, cos I know how long I've been riding, and when I was racing against them at 16 or 17 or whatever. So if ya ever wanna know just ask me. I'm gonna bring a book out.

Dpc: What were you in court for?

NeilHodgson: It was when Chris Walker crashed into me, we had the Rac Tribunal cos I had my points deducted. So it was me and him in court in this tribunal, which I won! But that was in the past.

NeilHodgson: Thanks to everyone for the questions, but I have to head off now. Thanks to everyone for their support and questions, and I’ll be back to answer some more in the future.