John Roberts: Hodgson on track after days of hod

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The Independent Online

Neil Hodgson wears the leathers of his trade with pride and distinction, in a manner that defined his magnificent British predecessors in the motorcycling world, champions such as Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Barry Sheene and Carl Fogarty.

While the majority of the 120,000 enthusiasts at Brands Hatch last weekend could only imagine the exhilaration of racing with the style and determination on show, many could identify with Hodgson's down-to-earth nature as he rode to within sight of the World Superbike Championship.

Hodgson may have moved to the Isle of Man but he has not forgotten the two years he worked on building sites. Hodgson recalled how small he felt carrying the hod: "They only had to put two or three bricks on it and it was weighing me down."

He was still a builders' labourer when he won the British 125cc Championship. "From being the man interviewed on television, squirting the champagne and having all these girls round me and being a bit of a star, I'd be back carrying the hod on a Monday morning. And the guys at work didn't treat me any different. But I'm not complaining. I'm glad I did that, because I appreciate the position I'm in now."

Having put the hod down long ago, Hodgson is in pole position on the glory road.