From a second back on the last lap to a first WorldSBK win, it was a memorable day for Neil Hodgson
Heading home to where the Championship was born; the 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is in its 35th season of racing and it’s turning out to be one of the best yet. However, it all started at Donington Park, the iconic British venue hosting the first round of what would grow to the thrilling Championship that we enjoy today. In honour of ‘coming home’ and getting into the fifth round of the 2022 season, we’re looking back at some classics from Donington Park, and we start with a real fan’s favourite.
Summer was on the horizon and Great Britain was searching for its next WorldSBK ‘King’ in 2000, following the career-ending crash of four-time World Champion Carl Fogarty earlier in the year at Phillip Island. By the time the paddock had reached the United Kingdom and Donington Park, all eyes were on the wildcards – particularly GSE Racing’s Neil Hodgson and Crescent Suzuki’s Chris Walker. Little did they know that on Sunday evening, they’d be national heroes as they did the unthinkable.
Whilst Race 1 saw Colin Edwards ease to victory, Race 2 was an entirely different affair; Edwards crashed early on, leaving Pierfrancesco Chili to work his way to the front of the field on his Dunlop-shod Suzuki – Donington Park was historically a circuit where Dunlop runners would come good. However, despite having a lead of over two seconds at one stage, his tyres began to fade. Coming onto the final lap of the race, he had a gap of 0.996s over the chasing Hodgson, who had been closing in all the time. As they came through Coppice for the final time, Chili had a huge moment, allowing Hodgson to get right alongside him down towards the ‘Foggy Esses’. Hodgson swept majestically around the outside of the Italian to the roar of a capacity Donington Park crowd, whilst on the exit, Chris Walker got through too. Hodgson took victory ahead of Walker in what was his first win in WorldSBK and Walker’s first podium; the first 1-2 for the United Kingdom in WorldSBK.
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