Former FIM World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson has announced his retirement from motorcycle racing.The 36-year-old returned to the British Superbike championship this season but crashed at the opening round at Brands Hatch earlier this month and aggravated a shoulder injury. Hodgson had seen several specialists in the weeks since but after Wednesday’s verdict from a leading shoulder specialist in Manchester, he has made the difficult decision to retire.Neil Hodgson
says: "To be honest I’m still pretty shell shocked from Brands Hatch. When you start the season you know you’re going to have to take a few knocks but the very first time I slide off I land straight on my shoulder."He added: "I knew it was bad, I have lived with it all last year and got to understand the level of weakness and recovery."I had more work to do but was really happy with the progress, riding the bike was the best therapy but also the biggest risk."I am gutted obviously. I had a plan to come back to the UK and have some fun. It will take time for me to come to terms with this but it is the right decision."My shoulder will get back to probably 90% over the next couple of years so I will be able to have a normal life."Hodgson was this year hoping to reclaim the British title he won in 2000, but his greatest achievement came in 2003, when he was crowned Superbike World Champion.Speaking earlier this month, Hodgson revealed he was close to quitting in the winter as he struggled to recover from the shoulder injury sustained in America last season.He said: "Last year I had a bad injury to my shoulder and thought about retiring. I was really close to calling it a day. I was in no fit state to race last year as my shoulder was in such a mess and I had no strength at all in my left arm."