AS A YOUNG boy, David Hodgson stood and watched his heroes tear round Croft motor-racing circuit.

He dreamed of emulating their feats as they pushed their machines to the limit in search of glory.

However, little did the lad from Kirklevington know that around a decade later he would find himself stood atop the podium as a champion.

Now 18, Hodgson has just clinched the Formula Jedi 1000cc title in his first full season and, what's more, with two races still to go.

Hodgson, whose involvement in motorsport began as many before him has, through karting, graduated last year to the single seater Jedis.

"There are two classes in Formula Jedi, 600cc and 1000cc. I did four races in the 600cc to start off and then I moved onto the 1000ccs, " he said.

"Initially, I didn't have a lot of luck, suffering from mechanical failures. But I won the last two races of last year and decided to come back for this season."

Hodgson has won 11 out of the 16 races so far this season, including the last ten on the trot, his latest success coming last weekend at Snetterton.

"There was one race on Saturday and one on Sunday but it was the first one that clinched it. If I won that one it was all over, " said the teenager, a former Conyers Sixth Form pupil in Yarm who now works for his father's civil engineering firm.

"I qualified on pole, won the race and broke the track record for Jedis as well by about eight-tenths of a second."

While having his feet on the ground, Hodgson said he believed he had a good chance of winning the championship at the start of the year, but it would not have been capable were it not for his own hard work and that of his band of helpers.

"We really wanted to win it and we thought we had a good chance, especially after winning the last two races. We managed to always be there, consistency was the main thing, " he said.

"I was delighted to have won it.

There has been a lot of hard work over the year, sorting the car out. We have had a few problems but we have managed to overcome them.

"My dad, Mac, has been a big help and I couldn't have done it without the help of Ted and Derek. There has been an awful lot of late nights and travelling to meetings and it wouldn't have been possible without them."

"To think that when I used to go to Croft I used to watch the cars go round and think how brilliant it would be to be on the track myself, " he said. "Now it's like 'wow'."

Published: 30/09/2005