Neil Hodgson is the 2003 World Superbike champion. Hodgson had to settle for second behind team-mate Ruben Xaus in the first race at Assen today but it was enough to take the championship. The second race saw a win for the new champion.
After taking the championship he celebrated by unzipping his leathers to reveal a t-shirt bearing the legend " Who’s the Daddy? Hello Holly " celebrating both his win and birth of his baby daughter.
" I was riding like a novice because there was so much pressure on me, " said Hodgson. " I feel amazing now I’ve done it. "
Hodgson simply had to finish in the top five in either race, but would have preferred a win as he swapped places with his Fila Ducati championship rival. But Xaus was determined to take some glory from the day and fought hard to take the win with the pair coming close to touching on several occasions. Eventually though, Hodgson settled for the finish 0.609 seconds behind the Spaniard.
Pole-sitter Pier-Francesco Chili took third, with James Toseland close behind. The lead four were eventually separated by 1.062 seconds at the flag.
Chris Walker took fifth, with a good result for Troy Corser on the Foggy-Petronas FP1 in sixth. Leon Haslam took seventh.
It was bad luck for wild card John Reynolds, who had qualified fifth, but retired on lap 13 on the Rizla Suzuki.
Again Hodgson and Xaus fought their way from start to finish, but this time it was Hodgson taking the well-deserved victory. " I feel like I deserve the championship now, " he joked.
Gregorio Lavilla took third. Fourth went to Regis Laconi, fifth to Pier-Francesco Chili, and sixth was Leon Haslam.
Race one results: 1) Xaus. 2) Hodgson. 3) Chili. 4) Toseland. 5) Walker. 6) Corser. 7) Haslam. 8) Clementi. 9) Martin. 10) Sanchini. 11) Gramigni. 12) Pedercini. 130 Horst. 14) Liverani. 15) Mrkyvka, 16) Menzen. 17) Moojman.
DNF: Pedersoli. Borciani. Laconi. Lavilla. Reynolds. Tortoroglio. Nebel. Borja. Truchsess. Fuertes.
Race two results: 1) Hodgson. 2) Xaus. 3) Lavilla. 4) Laconi. 5) Chili. 6) Haslam. 7) Clementi. 8) Walker. 9) Corser. 10) reynolds. 11) Martin. 12) Sanchini. 13) Borciani. 14) Pedercini. 15) gramigni. 16) Borja. 17) Nebel. 18) Menzen. 19) Liverani. 20) Truchsess. 21) Moojman.
DNF: Toseland. Pedersoli. Saiger. Fuertes.
Congratulate Hodgson on becoming the 2003 World Superbike champion by posting a message on the WSB discussion board by following the link on the right.
More news to follow throughout the day…