All you AMA Superbike fans can rest a little easier tonight. British import Neil Hodgson has found a home for ‘09. And he will be riding a CBR1000RR in American Superbike against the likes of Mat Mladin and crew. But where most had assumed it would have been for the Erion team, it will actually be under Corona colors. Though with a twist.
Hodgson (100) rode for the factory Honda squad in '08 and will basically be doing the same for '09, just with Corona-colored bodywork and sponsorship.
Essentially, it will be a factory machine, built and maintained from the Torrance, California race shop of American Honda, with the crew based there and employed by Honda as well. American Honda road race manager Ron Heben will spearhead the effort.
The Britt, who has become an American fan favorite, was left without a ride when American Honda withdrew from road racing on December 12 for economic reasons. This followed the parent Japanese end of Honda announcing they would be pulling out of Formula One, also for economic reasons. Since then Honda has announced they will not field a factory team in the Suzuka 8 Hours for the same reason. The only good news has been that the Big Red Wing will not cut its MotoGP effort, which many had feared.
Luckily for Hodgson, he had a two-year deal, thus Honda had to find a place for him or pay him to sit at the beach in Southern California. Another option on the table was to ride for a Magic Johnson-backed Honda team, which hit a road block when Johnson’s point man was tragically killed in a motorcycle racing accident a couple weeks ago.
This left most thinking Hodgson would pair up with Jake Zemke and Chris Peris on the very successful Erion team riding a 600, which Hodgson had said he would happily have done to keep from sitting around for the season without a ride.
“I would much rather ride than just sit around a collect a pay check,” said the likable Britt. “I know some of my mates have told me I’ve got it made to just go to the beach and get paid, but I still have a few good years racing left in me and to sit around doesn’t set me up well for 2010. I want to go out there and win Honda a championship so when they hopefully come back in 2010 I’ll be in a good position for the ride, or something similar.”
But Hodgson is even more delighted with the new situation, as he gets to continue on what will be very close to a full-factory machine with the crew he worked under last season.
“I didn’t think I would end up at Corona really, either,” Hodgson said. “But this deal with the factory boys running it under Corona colors sounded like the best option for me as I would continue to race the 1000cc Superbike, which is what I wanted. Considering how strong we were in testing I think we can be a race winner and contend for the championship. If I didn’t think so I wouldn’t have taken the option, so I’m really excited to get going and get back to racing again.”