Hodgson leads from the start at Assen

Published: 02 September 2003

Neil Hodgson has started the weekend as he means to go on, topping the time sheets in the first practice session at Assen in a round that could see him secure the World Superbike championship.

Hodgson, who became a dad on Tuesday (see separate story, right), led throughout the session putting in 22 laps, more than any other rider, but waited until his last lap to set the top time of 2:03.393.

His closest rival was Frankie Chili on the PSG-1 Ducati 998, the only rider on the grid to have previously won a race at Assen. Chili finished the session over a second down on the Ducati rider with Suzuki GSX-R1000 rider Gregorio Lavillia close behind, just 0.4 seconds slower.

The HM Plant Ducatis of James Toseland and Chris Walker took the fifth and sixth fastest times respectively, followed by Regis Laconi on a Ducati 998 and Hodgson’s team-mate Ruben Xaus.

British wildcard rider Leon Haslam got off to a good start on the Renegade Ducati 998 clocking a best time of 2:05.383, just under two seconds down on Hodgson. But fellow Brit wildcard John Reynolds could only manage 2:06.346 on his Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000, finishing in 12th, 0.15 seconds ahead of Foggy Petronas rider Troy Corser in 13th.

Corser’s team-mate James Haydon is still struggling with the FP1 and finished the session in 22nd.

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