After 20 years of competing, Neil Hodgson has decided to retire from motorcycle racing. The Englishman, who has a title in both World Superbike and British Superbike, announced this week he wouldn’t be fierce enough to compete due to aggravating an older injury.
The 36-year-old Brit of Burnley suffered a severe shoulder injury and collapsed lung while motocross training last year. The shoulder was healing, but he hurt it again after a high-side crash while practicing earlier this month for the opening Brands Hatch round in the 2010 British Superbike Championship, the series he joined after not having a ride in AMA Superbike for this year.
"That’s it. I’m hanging my leathers up but I’m thinking positive about the whole thing," Hodgson said. "It’s been a whirlwind 20 years and I’ve had such a good career. I don’t regret a thing."
His career is highlighted by experience across all the major series in road racing. After a stint in Motocross during his teenage years, Hodgson began road racing in 1990 for British Clubman’s Ministock, taking eight overall.
In 1992, the 18-year-old Hodgson raced in the 125cc International Supercup, becoming the British Champion. Hodgson then raced in the 125cc World Championship, before landing a ride with the Harris-Yamaha team for the 500cc World Championship in 1995, coming in 11th in the championship. The following year he moved to World Superbike, where he competed for Ducati in 1996, and then Fuchs Kawasaki in 1997-98. He then did two years in British Superbike with GSE Racing, taking the title in 2000.
In 2001, it was back to WSBK, where he raced for Ducati for three years, taking the championship in 2003 on the Fila Ducati 999. For 2004 and 2005, Hodgson raced in MotoGP alongside Ruben Xaus on Team d’Antin Ducati, where he reportedly could never get the proper setup.
Hodgson then moved to AMA Superbike, where he raced for four years. He rode for Ducati in ’05 and ’06, but the Italian brand pulled out of the series for ’07. He only raced at Laguna Seca for the ’07 AMA Superbike season aboard the Corona Honda. He would continue to race with this team for ’08 and ’09, until Corona Honda pulled out of AMA Pro Racing for 2010.
Without a ride, many thought Hodgson would retire, but he returned to British Superbike with the Motorpoint Yamaha team, considered a major contender for the title. But after the accident during practice in round 1 of the series, he was told of the seriousness of his injuries, and decided he’d never be strong enough to be an elite competitor.