Hodgson heads first day of Winter testing
British rider Neil Hodgson made his intentions clear for 2003 by posting the fastest time on the first day of the official World Superbikes tests at Valencia.
Hodgson and Fila Ducati team-mate Ruben Xaus were the quickest men on the track, with Hodgson posting a 1:35.479, with Xaus on 1:35.623. Both riders were unscathed despite high speed fall for Hodgson in the early sessions and Xaus also hitting the Tarmac in the afternoon.
Just behind were the HM Plant Ducati team of Chris Walker and James Toseland. Walker quickest time was !:35.84, with Toseland on 1:35.93. With three Brits seperated by under 0.5s, this season could be one to remember.
Two more Ducatis followed, with Australian privateer Steve Martin on 1:36.06 and NCR Ducati rider Regis Laconi sixth fastest with 1:36.54. Leading non-Ducati was Gregorio Lavilla on the 1000cc Suzuki posting a time of 1:36.59. Fellow Sapniard Juan Borja put another Ducati in eighth with 1:36.72, before the arrival of Tory Corser in ninth on the Foggy Petronas 900cc machine. Despite the FPR focussing on engine work, Corser was only 1.5 seconds off the pace with 1:37.02. Veteran Pier-Franchesco Chili filled the top ten with another Ducati, and a time of 1:37.03.
James Haydon suffered from a lack of circuit knowledge, but managed 1:38.203, under a second behind his teammate and former World Champion.
Hodgson was happy to be top. " I had to blow the cobwebs off after two months away from the track. After I high-sided at the first corner, I felt stiff in the afternoon, so I’m pretty happy with my quickest time. I know I’ll go faster tomorrow, today I wasn’t pushing too hard. "
The Supersport riders are also testing. Ten Kate riders Chris Vermuelen and Karl Muggeridge put in the best times of the day, with Vermuelen claiming the fastest time of 1:38.120.
Third position went to Katsuaki Fujiwara, fourth was Alessio Corradi, and fifth was former World Supermoto Champion, Thierry van den Bosch, who also gained valuable experience, completing the most Supersport testing laps.
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