Image by Brian J. Nelson
New Jersey Motorsports Park
Millville, NJ  Labor Day Weekend, 2009

Neil Hodgson and Jake Holden finished out the 2009 Superbike season right behind each other with fifth and sixth place finishes respectively at the New Jersey Motorsports Park finale.

In front of a terrific crowd for the first ever event at the new facility and with almost ideal weather, both riders overcame earlier problems to get on the pace and up in the front pack for an exciting finish to the season. The race also marked the last ever for multi-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin. Mat’s skill and determination will be missed. We wish him the best in his retirement endeavors.

The weekend did not start well for the team with problems for both riders, electrical gremlins for Jake and set-up issues for Neil. Jake, who had never been to the facility before, struggled to get up to speed with minimal track time caused by a hard to trace misfire at high rpm. The problem was to plague his practices all weekend and keep him from his usual fast qualifying. Neil, who had tested at the track earlier in the season, was not able to capitalize on that experience and had a hard time quickly finding a bike set-up that worked for him. Neil was able to get the bike sorted for final qualifying and posted third fastest time of the day, 1:21.710, and into Superpole. Unfortunately his Superpole lap, 1:22.649, was not nearly as good as the time earlier and he lost grid positions ending in seventh.

Jake qualified in fifteenth having missed most of the qualifying session with the electrical problems. Race one was a lesson in frustration for both riders. Neil had crashed in qualifying practice wrecking his bike and requiring the crew to rebuild it from the frame up for the race. Jake almost missed the start when an engine mapping problem appeared on the warm-up lap. He was able to make it to the start just in time after frantic work by the crew. Neither Neil nor Jake were able to get up to speed in the race and their finishes were not helped by poor starts. Both struggled getting by slower riders and neither was able to match times posted in qualifying. The final finishes were eleventh for Jake and thirteenth for Neil.

In the second race the story was much better. After a red flag on the first lap and full race restart both riders were up in the lead pack and stayed within striking distance of the leaders for the entire race. Hodgson crossed the stripe for the first time in 5th and held that position until lap 17 when Larry Pegram managed to get by. Neil held 6th position for three laps until gaining 5th again when Tommy Hayden crashed. Hodgson held that position until the end of the race. Neil’s best lap time was 1:21.879.

Jake Holden also had a much better second race, benefitting from the track time gained in race one.  Holden crossed the stripe in 9th for the first lap, having made up six positions from his start. He held that position until lap four when he passed Cory West for 8th. West managed to retake that position on lap 10. On lap 14 Holden passed Blake Young to take back 8th. He moved up again on lap 21 when Hayden crashed. The next lap Holden passed West to take 6th a position he held until the end of the race. He posted his best lap time of 1:21.532, the fourth fastest lap of the race, ably showing what a quick learner Jake is!

Jake finished the season championship points standing in tenth place with Neil right behind in eleventh. The event ended with the traditional end-of-season Corona party held in the Officers Club at the New Jersey Motorsports Park. The event was supported by all the major teams, the venue and AMA and attended by everyone it seemed! The event finished in the wee hours and provided an enjoyable close to the season.

In its “Race to the Lime” Corona Extra Honda Racing is proud to be partnering with:  Parts Unlimited, Cycle Gear, Pro Honda Oils, AGV, FMF, Autolite, Hotbodies Racing, K&N, Motion Pro, Vortex, Dainese, GPR, Ogio, CR&A, RK, Dunlop, Powerstands, Bellco, Adran, K&L, HRC, Acme Garage, Vicci, Fluid Designs, Shock Doctor, EBSCO Media, MTS.

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