I had one back in’t day: Carl Fogarty
World Superbike Champion 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999; 916, 996, 998 Corsa
an 888 Corsa) and next ride was round one of the WSB at Donington. I won both races first time out, I was the only person who was surprised – because it didn’t suit my style of riding. I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted and it meant I wasn’t getting any corner speed. It felt fast but it was nervous. I was leading the WSB championship for the first time though! Then I crashed it in practice at Hockenheim, breaking my wrist. I came back to win another double at Albacete, but I still didn’t like the bike.
“After that we went testing at Mugello and it wasn’t good, it would not hold a line, I couldn’t get it to change direction. Cagiva had their test rider there – Doug Chandler – and on another 916 he was lapping quicker than me, he was doing 1:57sec. It was doing my head in. Then on the last day they said I could ride the bike he was riding – a development bike. The difference was immediate – I was like, oh my god, this is incredible. They’d lengthened the swingarm and put the rake out, it was spot on and immediately I was able to drop to a 1:55 – and that pushed Doug’s nose out! I’d said give me a bike that does what I want in the corners and I’ll do the rest. I was being cocky, maybe, but I had that much belief in myself – and the bike.
“We still had some issues that year, with crankcases failing, which meant DNFs. I remember leading at Sentul by a good eight seconds when the bike broke down, giving Jim Whitham his one and only win in WSB (on another 916) – he wouldn’t have had that without me pulling out, I always rib him about that one!
“I went back to Honda in 1996 and rode the RC45. That was a quick bike but it struggled for back-end grip mid-corner, it would just slide out from under you. And I wasn’t happy with the Honda team set-up, I felt I was just a number. Ducati had felt like my team, they treated you like family, and at the end of the year I was very happy to go back. When I went back I could appreciate again what the 916 was doing, it was a fantastic bike, so smooth on the power, with so much torque.
“I have my 1998 season-winning bike in my hallway at home. It’s the only one of the four WSB title bikes I have – why I didn’t think to have a clause saying I’d keep my bike if I won for the other years I don’t know. I kick myself now.
“That bike, even now, looks so incredible, it still looks just like a modern race bike, not something that is now 21 years old. “I love it and I bow down to it every morning – after all, it paid for my house!”