In an exclusive 2010 interview with MCN, 2000 BSB champion and 2003 World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson revealed the emotional turmoil he had faced since aggravating a shoulder injury at Brands Hatch four weeks earlier.
odgson, 36, announced his retirement and told MCN what led to the decision: “I’ve been trying to imagine life without racing. Could I cope with that? Then I thought, ‘is it easier to cope with not being a racer, than coping with chasing around trying to break into the top ten at a BSB round?’
“I’m not being disrespectful to anyone but I’ve had so many highs in my career that I just couldn’t face the prospect of struggling in BSB to score points. I’ve had too much in my career to know when I’m not enjoying it. I’ve always said I’ve never raced for the money and this is the proof. I’ve got some good personal sponsorship deals in place this year but I’m going to have to forgo them.
“I feel like I’ve let everyone down, including Rob [McElnea – Motorpoint Yamaha team boss] and all his boys. They’ve done such a fantastic job for me this year. But I have to be a realist.”
Brands crash was trigger
Hodgson badly damaged his shoulder in a motocross accident in 2009. His decision to quit was brought to a head after he crashed the Motorpoint Yamaha at Brands Hatch on April 5, 2010, during Sunday morning warm-up for the opening BSB round.
He landed heavily on the injured shoulder and while it took him over two weeks to finally announce his retirement, his decision to quit came virtually hours after the Brands crash.
“In all honesty, I kind of knew then what was happening,” he admitted. “I’d re-aggravated the injury and almost said at the time I was going to call it a day but I decided to give myself time to really think it all over. I’ve thought of nothing since, weighing up all the options.”
Hodgson's greatest moment
“Winning as a ‘wild card’ at Donington Park World Superbikes in 2000 [on a GSE Racing Ducati] is the outstanding memory of my career.
“The sheer elation and shock of winning stands way above anything else. I’d failed in WSB the first time around and coming back to win as a wild card was an incredible experience. The icing on the cake.
“I remember thinking, ‘If I die tomorrow, I’ll die the happiest man in the world’. That’s how much it meant.”
Words Gary Pinchin