Neil Hodgson: In his own words
Geoff: Congratulations on last years performance. Did you see Hizzy over Christmas and how do you fancy your chances against him in the 2 UK WSB rounds?
NeilHodgson: I've not seen anything of Steve actually. I think he went to Tenerife or somewhere like that for Christmas, and I didn't see much of him before because I was really busy with getting married, doing stag dos, and doing the 2 week book tour. So I haven't seen him, but I'm looking forward to the two rounds because it's fun to race against him. Steve's very fast so it's always exciting
Gingerninja: OK...I want to know if you think you're bike this year will be down on power (again) compared to the factory bikes of Baylis, Xaus & Bostrom?
NeilHodgson: Not really, no. What Ducati have told us is that they won't be at all, so I'll take their word for it.
Simon: What is the significance of the number 100 on your bike?
NeilHodgson: There are 2 things really. The main one was I like the look of the number. There was an American Motocross rider called Mike Brown who used the number and I thought it looked really cool, and I was number one in the year 2000, so I thought 1, followed by two zeros. It sounds a bit gay but that's me... Plus I wanted to be noticed going back into WSB and I thought that if I had 100 people would remember that
Zxr girl: why do u think that there are not more women racers, and why do u think Katja Poensgen does not do better?
NeilHodgson: Erm. It’s probably like why there isn't more women boxers. The sport is dangerous and it does hurt when you fall off. Plus because there isn't a championship for women, you don't really see many women racing men. It's like a boxing match in that a woman couldn't beat a professional male boxer in most cases. But that isn't any disrespect to women. I'd like to see more in racing and maybe their own championships. I'm always keen to see women in leather!
Smorton: Are you looking forward to racing against Walker again?
NeilHodgson: First of all, that's the first time I've been asked that question! Yes I am. Hopefully we'll both have a good year, and hopefully we'll be battling each other, because that was exciting in 2000, and they were the best battles I've had in my career so it would be good to renew the old rivalry.
Rich: Ben Bostrom caused a commotion last year with his Evel Kneivel style leathers; will you be wearing some Flat Eric style leathers at Brands?
NeilHodgson: *laughs*. It might be a good idea, and certainly a good way to get some publicity. I've just bought Eric his first fluffy bike but he doesn't like it that much. He sleeps all day…
Gary: Would you agree this year is likely to be the most competitive yet with so many riders on top kit. Chilli on Ducati, Xaus out to prove himself, Bayliss, Haga etc
NeilHodgson: Yeah, definitely. I feel it's going to be the best championship year ever because everyone will be on the best bikes at the same time, and lots of people have got a lot to prove this year, and I'm one of them.
Hodgson100: Who do you think will be up there at the front with you all the way next season?
NeilHodgson: Definitely Troy Bayliss, and definitely Ben Bostrom, and definitely Colin Edwards, and I'm not too sure about Haga or Xaus.
Big nob: Neil is that really you?
NeilHodgson: Yes, unfortunately it is, and yes I'm doing it for free! I feel like I should be getting paid for this!
Yamsta: What days r u at ally pally?
NeilHodgson: I'm not
Jon boy: what is your favourite venue
NeilHodgson: Wembely Arena....*laughs*. It's got to be Brands Hatch because of the atmosphere. It's second to none and it always gives me the best buzz ever.
Big nob: Wehey. If it is really. what shop in Hull did you visit last March?
NeilHodgson: I've slept since then... I can't remember what it was. I think it was a Hein Gericke shop for Suomy Helmets.
Metts: What Do You Think Of Your Replica Bike
NeilHodgson: Awesome. I think they've done a real good job of it, and having ridden on it over here on the Isle of man a few times it feels really good. So I'm very pleased and proud to have a replica bike.
Kevin: Great new livery, but why the name change? Is it now HM Plant Ducati?. Does Darryl Healy run HM Plant as well as GSE and all it's subsidiaries?
NeilHodgson: No, the new name change is because HM Plant is now the title sponsor. It's only coincidental that Darryl Healy runs GSE, which stands for Groundworks SouthEast, and he's into construction and all sorts of stuff. HM Plant have sponsored the team for three or four years, and now thankfully, down to Mr John Jones, the gentleman that owns HM Plant, they've upped their level of sponsorship, and now become title sponsors. And I've got to agree the bike looks absolutely awesome.
Grundy: Did you ever get hold of any brolly babes?
NeilHodgson: As in grabbing hold of them? Unfortunately not. The problem is I'm doing this web-chat with my wife in the same room as me, so even if I did, I couldn't say
Pieman: How much does it cost to be title sponser
NeilHodgson: That's the million dollar question. I've no idea. All the sponsorship and PR stuff is nothing to do with me. I don't ask. But I would never get told anyway.
Smorton: How is married life treating you ?
NeilHodgson: Absolutely awful! I knew I shouldn't have got married. I can say that cos Catherine has just gone into the other room!
Grundy: Do you ever get bored during a race or in testing? Especially when you're way out in front.
NeilHodgson: You get bored in testing sometimes because it's monotonous, lap after lap after lap after lap, hour after hour for sometimes 2,3 or 4 days in a row. That becomes actually boring. The fun element is taken away due to the fact that you have to be on the pace, giving one hundred percent, for the data to be worthwhile data, and it's physically and mentally exhausting. And as for in a race, sometimes you get bored if you know you've got the wrong package and you can see riders in front pulling away and there's nothing you can do. It's demoralising.
DPC: When was the last time you experienced that?
NeilHodgson: In the last round in Imola. I got a good start and then nothing was going right. The bike felt slow, the tyres weren't gripping, all the gearing and suspension felt completely wrong, and I was riding like Katja Poensgen! No disrespect to Katja, cos I think she's fast for a girl, but…
Gixer2001: What size boots do u wear?
NeilHodgson: I'm um normally a 43 in normal shoes, but a race boot I always wear a 42 for two reasons; One is so my feet don't touch the ground, I hate that feeling. And the other is because if there is room inside the boot I get blisters, but if I crush my feet in, I don't get blisters. Sounds strange but it works for me.
Yamsta: Any chance of a job, like changing your sliders etc...?
NeilHodgson: That's a lot more difficult job than you think. The Velcro is unbelievably strong on the sliders, so yes, there's definitely a job available, but I can't promise the money would be anything to write home about!
Gingerninja: Have you had any psychotic fan experiences?
NeilHodgson: No, not for a while anyway. I think I'm definitely due something. I've passed all them on to Chris Walker.
Slim shady: It’ raining today , any tips for improving wet weather riding ?
NeilHodgson: Erm. Whenever you brake, always make sure, you're sat right in the middle of the bike, and the bike's completely upright.
Atom: Will a bit of nookie before races help u go faster?
NeilHodgson: *laughs* It didn't with me! But sometimes the night before races, as you know, it helps you sleep. You just have to find a willing partner. Sometimes when Catherine's not there...that's why I have Eric along with me! *shouts from Catherine in the background*
Pieman: D you ever partake in the traditional Traffic Light Grandprix?
NeilHodgson: Absolutely. You'd think I have more sense. I'm actually thinking I'm getting worse. Especially because I drive a Honda Accord Type R and it is so fast it's awesome, and it doesn't look it. So I sometimes blow them away and I practice my reaction time at the lights when I'm bored.
Jon boy: do you ride for pleasure on the road or cant you stand bikes on your day off
NeilHodgson: I can stand bikes on my day off, but I love motocross, so if I had a choice I'd rather go on my motocross bike all day. I've been out on it all afternoon and I've just got back. So it's lucky I made it in time, because I kinda forgot about doing this chat!..sorry!
Smorton: In your opinion who is the greatest racer ever ?
NeilHodgson: I was just thinking no-ones asked me a question like that, so I must be able to read your mind! I'd say Mick Doohan, closely followed by Joey Dunlop. Or equally but different disciplines.
Littleladcoxninja: Are you going to the IOM TT this year?
NeilHodgson: Well I hope so, I'm sat here now! I've not even looked at the dates actually. I don't think they clash, and after every race I go home, and home for me is the Isle of Man TT.
Andywilson: Away from the track are you and CW mates? Coz I read somewhere he stayed with you and cat over TT fortnight a couple of years ago
NeilHodgson: Erm... No he didn't! I'm not NOT friends with him, but I wasn't mates before 2000. I don't have his number, or see him in the off-season. I wouldn't say we're friends, but I know him, and that's about it really
Jon boy: would you like to come to southend on sea for a lager we got a spare room bring the wife we'll have a laugh(not at the wife)
NeilHodgson: Erm, I'd love to, but I've got a bit on at the moment. Maybe next time, and I drink Guiness by the way.
Slim shady: who was better ..Eddie kidd or Evel knievel ?
NeilHodgson: I think Eddie Kidd because I watched the Evel Kneivel biography on the biography channel, and I didn't realise how many times he crashed! I think technically Eddie Kidd was a lot better jumper. Don't forget when u jump you have to land again.
Smorton: A boring question, BUT - What do you feel about Foggys team ? How will they do?
NeilHodgson: I'm pleased I think it's good for the championship to have a new manufacturer involved in the series. I think if they have the budget then definitely they'll be a force to be reckoned with in their second year. I think this year is a big learning year for them all.
Littleladcoxninja: If you weren't racing which job would you most likely do?
NeilHodgson: I'd like to be a fishmonger! There's something about it when I go on Burnley Open market and walk past the fish stall and it absolutely stinks. I always think "Shit, if I wasn't racing bikes, that could be me over there!" Looking at the guys gutting fish...it's not what i would have wanted to do!
Harv2: If your into MotoX bike, would you consider Weston Beach race at all?
NeilHodgson: I'd definitely consider the Weston beach race. Every year I say I'll do that next year, but there are two buts. One is that I'm never motocross fit by the time it's on and if I was going to do it I'd want to be fit and give 100%. And the other but is that I'd do it, if I could ride someone else’s bike cos it's a real bike wrecker.
Metts: What do you think of Laguna Seca?
NeilHodgson: Laguna Seca is an absolute fantastic circuit and it gives you such an adrenalin rush riding round it. Next to Brands Hatch it's a place I look forward to and I really love America.
Gh900: If foggy's team will do ok, then why aren't Benelli succeeding yet?
NeilHodgson: Well because, if you listened to my answer, I said they'd be successful in their SECOND year, and Benelli have only done half a season. I reckon next year they'll do better.
Kato: In your opinion how do you think James Toseland will do this year?
NeilHodgson: I think he'll be fantastic. If he can continue to improve at the same rate as last season then he'll definitely be a force to be reckoned with
Metts: What is your favorite part of Laguna Seca?
NeilHodgson: Let me think… it's not what everyone thinks...the Corkscrew. There are two places I love, that are like no other place in the world. One is as you go other the start line you go over a crest of a hill with a kink in it, flat out in fifth gear, and as you go over the crest the front wheel goes light, and the back goes light. So you can actually slide and wheelie at the same time and I don't know any other track where you can do that and the other favorite is the one after the corkscrew. After the corkscrew it's like a rollercoaster ride.
Andywilson: are you a bit miffed that you aren’t racing 2002 factory Ducatis considering the results you got last year, especially taking into consideration the season that xaus had
NeilHodgson: Erm. Nothing was ever promised to me from day one, so I sorta knew half way through the season what the situation was. So it wasn't like I got to the end of the season with my hopes up and then they were shattered, I sort of knew anyway.
Hodgson100: What do you think about being a factory rider in 2004?
NeilHodgson: Yep, good. Looking forward to it. Hopefully everything is going to fall into place at the right time.
Mustgofaster: Are you and James constructively critical with each other about riding technique?
NeilHodgson: No, not at all. We don't really discuss it, even constructively we just don't do it.
Gh900: Your team was the most professional looking during the pit walk at Assen last year, how do you keep smiling with all the punters crying out for autographs?
NeilHodgson: Well that's not a problem at all, because nine times out of ten they are all British, and they've always got something to say that always cheers me up. There's no-one coming along to wind me up. It just amazes me to see all the different faces. During pit walks I'm always nervous because it's close to the race, but afterwards I'm always a little more chilled out, so I try to enjoy myself while it's on.
Hodgson100: Who in World Superbikes has the worst riding style and is the hardest to over take?
NeilHodgson: Let me think. I reckon Troy Bayliss! Obviously it's extremely effective, it's just his feet are always sticking out. It looks like he's got size 20 feet! He's got ducks feet. They're all hard to overtake, there's not one person that's any harder than anyone else.
Metts: Do You Think MV Agusta Will Race Superbikes
NeilHodgson: I've absolutely no idea!
Carrera4: Niel, how can a rich man like drive a Honda Accord. Why not a Porsche or a TVR?
NeilHodgson: It's quite easy.... cos it's free! And the accord type r is the sporty version, so they're not a bad old vehicle.
Big nob: Where are you realistically hoping to finish the year?
NeilHodgson: Realistically top three, hopefully top one.
Harv2: Have you tried Rockingham yet, if so, what’s your verdict, safe or not?
NeilHodgson: Not been...
Alexj: I've just started reading your book, and from the first few chapters it appears as though you didn't have a lot of time to spend writing a book. So how did you fit it in?
NeilHodgson: *laughs* Because the guy that wrote the book came to every race meeting, so he witnessed everything, and interviewed me after every practice session and every race, then wrote it down, and then I changed it, or agreed with what he had put down.
Gingerninja: Have you given any thought to riding a 4-stroke GP bike?
NeilHodgson: No not really, just because I've got my mind set on World Superbikes, and I'm just so focussed on that, I'm not thinking about anything else. Don't get me wrong I love watching the GPs. I think that Honda's going to take some beating.
Mustgofaster: Last year there were a couple of times when the bike or tyres let you down. What do you feel like when that happens?
NeilHodgson: Very deflated... It's frustrating because when something goes wrong you want to blame somebody or something, but you can't just blame one person, because it's normally like three things that go wrong. Things that shouldn't. So you just have to be British and take it on the chin, and then cry when you get in your motorhome!
Andywilson: Now that James has a year of WSB under his belt, do you think this will benefit you in anyway
NeilHodgson: Yeah, definitely. Certainly now straight away when we test, he'll be on the pace straight away, and with set-up and tyre-testing we can help each other, definitely.
Ron: I'm looking forward to catching up with you and the GSE team at Phillip Island as out of all the teams, you guys are the friendliest and I had one of the best time sof my life with you guys last year: PS I haven't got a ponytail this year for hodgo the hairdresser to remove
NeilHodgson: Bloody hell! I remember, you had a long ginger ponytail, and after the race we were having a few drinks in the bar, and you said it'd be an honour if I cut the ponytail off. It must have taken years to grow, but I did it, and we had a really good laugh. They were great company and I'm looking forward to seeing them again this year.
Metts: Did You Ever Meet Nicky Hayden And if so what do you think of his riding
NeilHodgson: No, I've never met him. I think he's a real good rider, and definitely a WSB star of the future if he wants to be, but he probably gets paid more in America so he'll probably stay there. You can't blame him
Andii: Still no more Mr Nice Guy? I remember a certain 125 racer in need of a tyre kit in Germany in 1993.
NeilHodgson: Bloody hell....can't remember that!
Metts: What do you think of the AMA Superbike series
NeilHodgson: Real good. It seems like Mladin has a stronghold on the series. He's won it for the past 3 years or something. Just a shame some of the tracks are a little bit suspect, a bit dangerous.
Atom: Do u have a nickname for the CW?
NeilHodgson: errrr… *laughs* Yes!
Dpc: Give us a clue.
NeilHodgson: I'm not allowed to swear on a webchat!
Andywilson: why do you think that the 750's dominate the AMA series but not WSB or BSB, do they still race the 888 out there
NeilHodgson: Good question. I don't know really. I'd not really thought about that... You'll have to give me sometime to think about it. I'll answer it in my next webchat. That's the best question of the day!