Foggy: “Four-strokes killed WSB”


Four-time World Superbike champion, team owner and ‘King of the Jungle’ Carl Fogarty has claimed that the onset of the four-stroke MotoGP era in 2002 was the final nail in the coffin for the previously dominant four-stroke racing formula – WSB.

Foggy won the title in 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999 before retiring through injury in 2000. During his time in WSB he won 59 races in 220 appearances, a total which was only surpassed by Jonathan Rea, the five-time title winner, in 2019.

Rea’s dominance of the WSB scene in recent years and back-to-back titles from 2015 through to 2019 – has led many race fans to hark back to the glory days of WSB in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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Back then the racing was close and frenetic, with twins versus four-cylinder machines and the World SBK Championship was seen as a strong alternative series in terms of racing and rider participation to 500cc Grand Prixs but the emergence of a rebranded MotoGP in 2002, using four-stroke engines, changed that.

Critics say it essentially established a clearer hierarchy that placed MotoGP higher on the motorsport ladder that World SBK as a production-based series could never compete with.

It is a move Fogarty believes has contributed to World SBK’s decline in recent years, even if he accepts a lack of characters and TV exposure plays their part too.

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He said: “When MotoGP was born in 2002, it was the nail in the coffin of the Superbike World Championship. Since then, the championship has been struggling to recover from it. I cannot say exactly what is lacking today. Maybe because of the character of the drivers, lack of TV coverage, I don’t know.”

Despite this he still thinks the series is important for brands to sell their motorcycles and is impressed by the quality of racing: “People want to see motorcycles that are the same as those that they ride on the street. And there are prototypes racing in MotoGP anyway. It’s like Formula 1 and touring cars – despite this, I love superbike races, they are incredible races.”

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