Corona Extra Honda’s Neil Hodgson finished with the best time on the first of two days of testing at New Jersey Motorsports Park.Despite being handicapped by his still recovering shoulder injury, Hodgson was able to lap at a hand-timed 1:22.5, while consistently lapping in the 22s. Unlike Mid-Ohio, with constant changes of direction and hard braking, the flowing nature of the Thunderbolt Raceway didn’t aggravate his shoulder.Hodgson did his time on the harder of the two rear Dunlops, the one which will likely be used for the September 6 race. The softer tire may work by then, but it wasn’t the choice for race distance today.Still, that was the tire Yamaha’s Ben Bostrom used to clock the second fastest time, a 1:22.7. Bostrom’s team improved the balance of the YZF-R1 following the Mid-Ohio race and he said it was the most fun bike he’d ever ridden. He compared it to the L&M Ducati 996R he rode to victory in both World Superbike races at Brands Hatch in 2001.”That thing was incredible. That’s it again,” he said of his 2001 bike. “It makes it really easy to ride around. I’m just having a blast being an a–hole out there, not caring about a time, more testing a shock, spinning the tire. God, the thing is incredible. I wish I had that a long time ago. My team is strong now. It’s gnarly.”As for the track, Bostrom said, “I love it. It’s not big enough for a Superbike. The thing is, it’s a 600 track and I’m sure on a 600 it’d be bitchin’ around here. But the Superbike’s a blast. Like mine, who cares? You just burn the thing over the hills and everywhere and have a good time.”But he did admit there were safety issues, including thee first couple of corners where he “wouldn’t want to run off,” he said. “I’ll be honest; the walls are a bit too close, especially in turn one down there, you wouldn’t want to see anyone have an incident. But you wouldn’t want to run off in the kink or any of these places. You wouldn’t want to have wobbles coming into the tunnel.”Bostrom was one of the few riders to believe the track had more than one passing zone. Most riders said turn one was the most likely passing area. Bostrom counted four.”There’s a lot of spots here to actually screw a guy over,” he said before counting, “One two, three, four… there’s four passing spots here. Pretty rare for a small track that’s so twisty.”
Hodgson Best In New Jersey
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.