New challenge on horizon for Wigan road racer Rob Hodson
He has ridden through the tragedy and tears, straight into the record books.
Earlier this summer Bryn road-racer Rob Hodson joined the Isle of Man TT elite when he launched into the rare stratosphere of bike stars able to power their way around the Mountain Circuit at an average race speed of 126mp.
A month later that was followed by a fine win in the big bike class at the Southern 100 Races on the other side of the island.
And all this just more than a year after the death of older sibling and mentor, fellow racer Jamie Hodson.
The 35-year-old died in the same 2017 Ulster Grand Prix twins race in which Rob was injured.
Now his growing seeding and stature between the trees and telegraph poles will see him fly halfway around the world to take part in one of the world of motorsport’s toughest challenges.
He has accepted a select invitation to race the four day Macau Grand Prix off the coast of China.
It is infamous for unforgiving Armco barriers to punish lapses in concentration, spectacular tropical electric storms and 100,000-plus knowledgeable fans.
Rob, 30, will race for his JGH family team and hugely experienced road racer dad Jim will be among the five strong crew flying out to very edge of mainland China.
And the autobody paint sprayer will compete on his own Vehicle Recovery Service-backed 200mph-plus BMW S1000RR, which has proved to be such a potent track weapon this season.
Should he be successful - at least 30 Brit road racers are going over – Hodson won’t be the first Wigan racer to taste glory at Macau.
Former Hawkley Hall racer Mike ‘Spike’ Edwards – ex British 600cc champion – won these very Macau GP laurels in 1995 on the Team ROC 500cc Yamaha.
Rob admitted that racing the Macau Grand Prix, still the only roads circuit to stage bike and car races, would be a “steep learning curve.”
But he has been watching DVD shows of races there daily to try and memorise as much as possible about circuit before next month’s races. The bike has already started the long freight journey to China ahead of JGH’s 12-hour flight on November 7.
He said: “I haven’t done badly at the TT... but Macau is a different thing with those Armco barriers and you have to have your wits about you none stop, for sure. I have been watching plenty of on-board DVDs from riders who have done Macau so I now know which way it goes and what is coming next.
“I have been watching them pretty much every night so it is a good job I have got a supportive girlfriend! But nothing beforehand can really prepare
you for the first practice session, when it is just you and its just a case of getting on the bike and getting on with it.
“With the way road riding is going among the modern riders, they approach a roads circuit like riding flat out around Oulton Park Circuit, despite the risks, and that is what you have to do if you want to succeed.
“Luckily I have always liked Chinese food as well!”
Rob has certainly had a strong year on two wheels since deciding to race on after the tragic death of Jamie.
He claimed 600cc / 1000cc class glory in the recent Southern 100 races on the Isle of Man’s Billown roads circuit.
And he was fourth, behind three semi works entries, in the Superbike class and fourth in the SuperTwins.
He said: “Macau had a representative watching at the TT I’m told, keeping an eye on how the riders were doing and the chance to ride there came because of my performance there, then at the Southern 100 and the Classic TT.
“I heard that they liked what they saw at the TT but didn’t think much about it until they got in touch afterwards with an official invitation, because it is an achievement to even be considered. It was a good way to start the day.
“Even if it doesn’t end up working out and I never go back, I can say that I have done it and it is there on my CV. I will also be putting Jamie’s number on the fairing again and I will be doing it for him as well as me.
“It’s our second year on the BMW and we will be taking it in Superbike specification with something like 220bhp and a top speed of 200mph plus, which is a scary thought!”