Fogarty rues missing rivalries, ‘WorldSBK’s lost its edge’

| | WorldSBK

If there’s one man qualified to talk all things WorldSBK, it’s four-time champion and former King of the Jungle now MBE, Carl Fogarty.

The Ducati ambassador amassed 59 race wins during his nine seasons in the World Superbike paddock, alongside Isle of Man TT and World Endurance accolades to name a few more. Famed for his outspoken and at times aggressive antics, Fogarty takes a more leisurely approach to the sport these days.

“I seemed to have a lot to say back then, I don’t know why?” Fogarty admitted to Alex Brundle during the Adrian Flux interviews at The Classic:2022 Silverstone. “I just put pressure on myself by saying a lot of stuff. I don’t know why I didn’t just keep my mouth shut and just ride the bike, it would have been a lot easier for myself!

“I think people like me for my honesty,” he continued. “ I hated losing, I was born on the first and there was only one place I ever wanted to finish!”

Reflecting on the current crop of talent on the WorldSBK scene, the Blackburn legend admits it’s a far cry from his 90’s heyday.

“It’s going in the right direction,” he said of the sport in general before reminiscing on the old-school sparks. “There’s always great racing - whether it was in my era, before me, or now - but I think maybe it’s lost…personality. Everyone seems to be really nice now. They all like each other and go riding and cycling together. I liked it when there was a bit of an edge to it and people didn’t really like each other.

“When it was Aussies against Brits and Americans, I think the English-speaking nations always had this thing, but now there’s not really many Aussies or Americans anymore, for whatever reason in World Superbikes. It’s a lot of Brits, Italians and the Spanish. They don’t seem to have the same sort of aggression to fall out with you, or to say what’s on their mind.”

John Kosinski, Scott Russell, Colin Edwards and Aaron Slight all felt Foggy’s wrath but created in the process, some of the most memorable rivalries of all time.

“I don’t think any of us really liked each other, unless that was just me,” the 57-year-old continued. “I only had one good mate and that was James Whitham.

“Having said that, after a race weekend on a Sunday night we’d often find ourselves in the same hotel, bar or pizza place having something to eat and a few beers and everything would seem to be okay. Then on a Monday you thought; ‘I hate these guys again, I’ve got to think about the race next week’.

“It’s just different now. It’s a lot more politically correct now. Maybe the guys can’t be the personalities they want to be because they are controlled a lot by the teams, sponsors, the media - obviously social media plays a big part in that.”

While 2022 has seen Alvaro Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea dominate the Superbike podium, Fogarty is unsure how much talent is pure racer versus modern trickery.

“The racing’s still great, some great riders, obviously but I don’t really know how good they are.

“The technology on the bike is unbelievable,” he acknowledged. “A MotoGP bike is a million miles away from the thing I raced! Everything was mechanical on my bike, you could adjust everything with a screwdriver or a spanner. Now, the guy plugs a laptop in and changes everything The electronics on the bike are unbelievable.

“It’s hard for me to pick out who’s a really good rider, who’s really talented, because the bikes are so good. It’s hard for riders to stand out now like it was in my era.

“I love watching the racing, I really do but they all seem to ride round together and just the last few laps get broken up. The top 15 all finish within six seconds, if you took all the electronics off, that wouldn’t happen. You would see then who the most talented guy was, in my opinion. But then they’d be crashing everywhere because the power of the things, so they’d never do it!

‘You would see which rider has the most natural feel and ability to ride a bike with that kind of horsepower without electronics. It’s hard for me because I’m old school, to see who is really the most talented - it’s probably just the one who can set the bike up the best, really.”