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Hodgson: “Last to first - I would do it all over again!”

Monday, July 13 2015

Neil Hodgson was the last rider in the MCE British Superbike Championship to start on the back row of the grid and carve his way through the pack to claim victory. That was at Oulton Park during his 2000 title-winning campaign and his reaction to the 'MCE BSB Monster Energy King of Brands Challenge'? "I would do it all over again; in fact I should make a comeback!"

The MCE BSB Monster Energy King of Brands Challenge will give the front row riders in race two the opportunity to take the start from the very last row of the grid to chase a staggering £50,000 cash prize if they push their way to the front. Each of the three eligible riders will receive a base prize of £5,000 if they take up the challenge and also receive double main season championship points for that race. 

Hodgson believes that with the talent of riders in the championship it is possible for the leading contenders to win again from the back of the pack, especially over the 2.4-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

Hodgson said: "I think it is a superb idea and one of the best things I have heard in a while. It will add another bit of spice to BSB and is a great concept as I for one would do it if I was still racing - perhaps I should make a comeback, especially as Brands Hatch is one of my favourite circuits!

"It probably isn't that much different now to when I did it, it will be harder because the level is so strong throughout the field in BSB but I definitely still think it is do-able to win from the back row of the grid."

Hodgson's last to first spectacle at Oulton Park in 2000 started when the INS Ducati rider had a problem on the grid, demoting him from pole position to dead last on the eighth row. He took no prisoners on the opening lap, moving from 32nd to 13th by the end of lap one before climbing into the top ten in eighth place just a lap later.

The INS Ducati rider only made up a single place next time around, but by the fourth lap he was on the back of the leading pack, holding fifth place behind fierce rivals Chris Walker, John Reynolds, James Haydon and Steve Hislop.

As the scrap for the victory raged, Hodgson saw his opportunity, dispensing with Reynolds and Hislop to move third by the start of lap seven and like a red rag to a bull he could see the chance of the lead. The Burnley ace pulled a move on both Haydon and Walker to hit the front of the pack to lead on the eighth lap and he wasn't prepared to stay for the rematch - edging out lap by lap to win by 1.254s.

"We know how good the riders are in BSB and there was no secret plan or anything like that when I did it," added Hodgson. "What you need is a good first few laps and then to have some good luck, especially if throughout the pack the riders in front are battling with each other. To be honest when I did it I picked a few riders off at the beginning and I also had some mediocre laps but where people were duffing each other up it gave me the chance I needed.

"When I did it, there was a really calm feeling about it, because the expectation you have for taking a result from the front row was gone and it took all the pressure off. I felt bizarrely confident at the time and that's not being big-headed or arrogant, it was because the race could only get better from where I was and all I focused on the whole time was whoever was the next rider in front of me. I think turn one on the first lap I didn't look at anything else but the inside line - it really fires you up!

"The strongest riders in the race are usually the three starting on the front row so they should all do it in my opinion and I will be watching to see who takes up the challenge - if they don't I will be disappointed as I would give it a go, because as I said, it is definitely possible to go from last to first!"



The 2015 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship returns to the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on 17/18/19 July.     Discounted advance tickets for the 'Big Brands Bash' are available now: adult raceday (Sunday) admission is £26 online, and three-day adult tickets are £34. Camping is just £18 per person, and children under 13 go free. For more information click here.