Rob Hodson Wins RST Classic Superbike Manx Grand Prix
Official Manx Grand Prix Statement
In the final race of the 2022 Manx Grand Prix, it was Rob Hodson who won Monday afternoon’s RST Classic Superbike Manx Grand Prix after a thrilling battle between the Greenall Racing Kawasaki and Craig Neve for much of the way.
However it was disappointment for Neve, as the Alasdair Cowan Racing Kawasaki rider went out at Greeba on the final lap and with Nathan Harrison setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, he grabbed second from 2019 winner David Johnson on the final lap to make it a Greenall Racing first and second position on the podium.
Just 2.7 seconds covered the leading six riders as they swept through Glen Helen for the first time, but it was Neve who led by one second from Michael Dunlop (Team Classic Suzuki), the Northern Irishman holding a 0.87 seconds advantage over Brian McCormack on the third Greenall machine. Harrison, Hodson and Neve’s team-mate Johnson followed with just a couple of tenths between them.
Neve still led at Ballaugh but the gap was down to 0.3 seconds with Hodson now up to third ahead of team-mates McCormack and Harrison and whilst Johnson still sat in sixth, it remained close with less than five seconds covering the first six riders.
The gap between Neve and Dunlop was almost identical at Ramsey and whilst Johnson was the first to complete the lap at 124.455mph, it was Neve who was the quickest and an opening lap of 125.185mph saw him extend his lead to 1.2 seconds. It was now Hodson in second though with Dunlop dropping to third and a further half a second back.
Johnson slotted into fourth with Harrison and McCormack in fifth and sixth, but Dominic Herbertson retired at the pits with Paul Jordan stopping at Quarter Bridge at the start of his second lap.
That was of little concern to the race leaders and at Glen Helen on lap two, Neve had added three tenths of a second to his lead with the gap to Hodson 1.5 seconds but Johnson and Harrison had both moved up a place with Dunlop dropping back to sixth.
McCormack was still very much in touch in sixth as only 14 seconds covered the top six.
Neve stretched his lead over Hodson to 2.1 seconds on the run from Glen Helen to Ballaugh and Harrison had nosed ahead of Johnson by the tiny margin of 0.013 seconds to take over third. Dunlop was still holding off McCormack with Ryan Kneen (Herheim Racing Kawasaki) and Michael Rutter (Bathams Ales Suzuki) running in seventh and eighth.
Harrison increased his gap to Johnson to 2.92 seconds at Ramsey and McCormack had overhauled Dunlop but all eyes were on the battle for the lead with Hodson cutting Neve’s lead to 0.795 seconds. And by the Bungalow, Hodson led for the first time.
A second lap speed of 125.935mph meant Hodson was leading Neve by 2.5 seconds as they pitted for fuel whilst the gap between Harrison and Johnson was back down to 0.806 seconds. McCormack moved up to fifth and although Dunlop completed the lap, he climbed off the bike and retired at the pits, which promoted Rutter into the top six.
A quicker pit stop enabled Neve to reduce Hodson’s lead to 0.664 seconds by the time they reached Glen Helen third time around and Johnson had now moved up to third, his advantage over Harrison a healthy 12.2 seconds after the Manx rider lost time. McCormack was out though having stopped at Ballacraine with Phil Crowe, running in 11th, another to retire, this time at Pear Tree Cottage.
The monumental battle for the lead continued to rage and by Ballaugh, Neve had reduced the gap further, Hodson’s lead now standing at just 0.297s! However, the Wigan rider responded and for the rest of the lap edged away, his lead 4.5s going into the fourth and final lap.
All hopes of a Grandstand finish were dashed when Neve retired at Greeba Bridge and with his lead now standing at 18.7 seconds over Johnson, Hodson was able to control the remainder of the race, eventually taking the victory by 15.341 seconds.
Second place though went to Harrison after the Manxman really flew on the final lap clear and with the fastest lap of the race, 126.326mph, he grabbed second from Johnson by 0.617 seconds. Kneen held off Rutter to take fourth with Michael Sweeney, Lee Johnston, Michal Dokoupil, Barry Furber and Shaun Anderson rounding out the top ten.