SUPERBIKER Neil Hodgson is celebrating become a dad for the first time...after his wife was induced early so the birth wouldn't clash with his World Championship title bid.

Neil's wife Kathryn gave birth to 7lb Holly Jean yesterday at a hospital close to the couple's home on the Isle of Man.

The baby, who has been named after Kathryn's mum Jean who died eight years ago, was actually due on the date of Neil's vital World Superbike race at Assen, Holland this Sunday.

But the couple asked doctors if Kathryn could be induced early to allow Neil to be at the birth.

The couple, who only moved into their new detached home on the Isle of Man three weeks ago, have spent the last few weeks preparing for the baby's arrival, including decorating the baby's nursery and attending ante-natal classes.

Neil said: "I knew it was going to be an unbelievably emotional week.

"I spent my whole life aiming to be world champion, and for the birth date to fall on the same day was just typical.

"But for me both things - having the baby and winning the title - are equally important.

"I know some people may be suprised to hear that and I am sure that in 10 years time I will not see it that way. But I have spent the best part of my life aiming to be World Champion."

Neil's proud parents, Mark and Maureen, who still live in Burnley, will be travelling over tomorrow to watch him in action.