Neil Hodgson’s new book went on sale on Friday. Back On Track is his own review of his WSB season, filled with real insight into life as a top-ranking international racer.
He doesn’t hold back, even when recounting the events is personally embarrassing.
On one occasion Hodgson was asked to come to Kent to film a road safety video. A day’s filming done and Hodgson was anxious to get back to Isle of Man home.
" After the video launch, I had to catch a plane back to the Isle of Man. However, it was tea-time in Kent and I had the M25 to negotiate, so I got in the back of a police car with a couple of middle-aged coppers and we had a really good laugh, tearing along the back roads. I loved it, because I'm a big kid at heart and they also let me in on a few trade secrets.
" Then, when they dropped me off outside departures at Gatwick, one wound his window down, waited until I had got out with my bags, and shouted: 'Right, this is your last warning. If we catch you bumming men again you're in big trouble.' …I didn't know where to put myself. "
The book details how Hodgson saw a change in Troy Corser at the first round of the season at Valencia in Spain.
Hodgson says: " The real reason for travelling here a day early was to pose for several PR photos in our new Axo leathers but also, at the start of each season, there is always a rider briefing, where the organisers tell us of any new rules. This time, it turned into one long Troy Corser whinge.
" Normally, it's Pier-Francesco Chili who acts as the unofficial spokesman for the riders, but Corser seemed to be a different man this year. For a start, he had lost a lot of weight, having employed a personal fitness instructor. It was also unusual to see him without his girlfriend Sam, the rumour around the paddock was that they had split up.
" Most of the wives and girlfriends are quite close and like a good gossip, so this was top of the agenda when Kathryn arrived. There was a lot of sympathy for Sam as the consensus was that she had put up with a lot, and now had to go through life with a tattoo of the Corser Crocodile on her ankle!
After the South Africa round he said: " I was upset because I felt I had let the team and myself down. Only I really know whether I have given 100 per cent. I knew I hadn't but Colin also knew that I hadn't because he has enough experience of working with me to read my body language. So I had an hour-long 'debriefing session' with Colin. It was more than that, though. Some harsh words were said - and some that I thought were a little too strong.
'You cannot be like this, Neil. I don't think you are focused on the job in hand. Maybe your mind is on your holiday in Australia. Maybe you think that, because you are back racing at World Superbike level, that you've made it. You've got a great lifestyle, you are earning good money. Is that enough for you? Because, if it is, it's not too late for us to find someone else to do the job,' he said.
That annoyed me. I thought it was over the top. I'm only at the second race of the year and already it sounded as if my job was on the line.
'That's out of order, Colin. I'm not in any comfort zone, you know me better than that. I've had a bad session and I can't put my finger on why,' I said.
Apart from that one comment, I had found the talk with him very motivational. He's good to listen to because he doesn't just repeat everything he's said to me before. He talks about specific things and doesn't just settle for 'Pull your finger out' crap. I know that he is only trying to do the best for me by giving me a kick up the backside and it worked, but I did not feel that threatening me with the sack was either fair or effective. "
As a record of the year from the point of view of the main British hope of 2001 in the WSB series, the book offers a fascinating inside line. For Hodgson fans it will be the ideal read – and for bike racing fans in general there are lots of parts that are not known that will give a glimpse inside the workings of a team.