Neil Hodgson’s first test of his 2002 Ducati was a washed out.
The MCN Man of the Year was desperate to get on his Testastretta 998R and claw back some of the ground he’s already lost to Chris Walker, who has done hundreds of laps on his Kawasaki.
But Hodgson’s trip to the Valencia circuit in Spain was a waste of time last week, as he only managed to ride for one afternoon of what was meant to be a two-day test.
He at least managed a handful of laps on the V-twin, but said: " I couldn’t believe it when I got there to find it was lashing down – not after all the time I have been waiting to get my hands on the bike.
" It was so frustrating to be sat there ready to go and not get anything done. "
Hodgson and team-mate James Toseland now have to wait until the first official WSB test in Australia at the end of January before they can ride again. He added: " That’s not really enough time at this level to get things sorted out. We both need a lot more time on the bikes before the start of the season, but that is looking less likely because everything has to be sent to Australia for the January session. It’s no-one’s fault, but it’s very frustrating. "
When Hodgson finally got out and he said: " I was able to push on a bit harder in the afternoon, but still not hard enough to find the limits of the bike. It was just so cold that nothing seemed to be working that well on the bike.
" It does feel a lot smoother at the bottom end and the power feels very usable. I couldn’t really feel much difference at the top end because it has been so long since I rode my old bike.
" I could feel the difference in the suspension, though. It felt a lot better than the Ohlins we were using last year and was more predictable even though it’s going to take some time to get it to suit the way I ride. "
GSE team manager Colin Wright said: " Both Neil and James seemed to love the new bike, but it was very disappointing for everyone to come all the way to Spain only for it to rain. "
The team won’t test again until the three-day atest at Phillip Island, Australia, at the end of January. But they have fixed up a series of one-day tests throughout the championship to aid development during the year.
Hodgson vows to win the world title in an exclusive interview in MCN Sport – out now, priced £3.50.
THERE’S MORE ON THIS IN MCN ON SALE ON DECEMBER 19, 2001.