WSB pushed GP rac­ing close in the UK pop­u­lar­ity stakes in the ’90s, so four-times WSB king Fog­a­rty can­not be counted out of the reck­on­ing

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Best Brit Racers - By Oli Rushby and Si­mon Pat­ter­son MCN SPORT RE­PORTERS

There might have been a 35-year win­less pe­riod for Bri­tain in GP rac­ing, but it’s been rain­ing gold in World Su­per­bike rac­ing since the 1990s.

The pro­duc­tion se­ries, in­tro­duced in 1988, has seen a whole host of Bri­tish suc­cess over the last 28 years. More Brits have won races and cham­pi­onships in WSB than any other na­tion and the suc­cess spans from Roger Burnett tak­ing pole po­si­tion for the se­ries’ open­ing race at Don­ing­ton Park in ’88 to Jonathan Rea who won his sec­ond ti­tle this year.

The growth of the World Su­per­bike se­ries co­in­cided with the dom­i­nance of Rep­sol Honda’s Mick Doohan in the 500cc Grand Prix class in the mid-nineties. Close rac­ing on bikes that pun­ters could go out to the shops and buy was an at­trac­tive prospect and WSB au­di­ences con­tin­ued to grow. A claimed 120,000 Foggy-crazy fans crammed into Brands Hatch in 1999 to see the Bri­tish star fight for his fourth world ti­tle.

With WSB ar­guably big­ger and more pro­lific than GP rac­ing at this stage, it has to be ar­gued that when con­sid­er­ing the best Bri­tish rac­ers since Sheene, you can’t ig­nore Fog­a­rty’s WSB suc­cess. He took 59 race wins, en­joyed a 50% podium record and lifted four world ti­tles as he dom­i­nated the se­ries in the nineties. Nei­ther his win record nor amount of ti­tles have been bet­tered by any other rider since.

Sheene won 19 pre­mier class Grand Prix races, so Fog­a­rty’s win tally of 59 places him three times ahead of the south­erner, and while it could be ar­gued WSB have two races a week­end, four world ti­tles can­not be dis­puted.

And let’s not for­get what a tenacious rider Fog­a­rty was. His first WSB crown came in spite of miss­ing a round with a bro­ken wrist and in 1998, he was as far back as sixth in the stand­ings be­fore fight­ing back to take the ti­tle from Troy Corser and Aaron Slight at the fi­nal round.

At the time, Bri­tain wasn’t fussed about its lack of suc­cess in Grand Prix, this is some­thing that de­vel­oped as the years went on and es­pe­cially as GP rac­ing moved into the Mo­togp era, grow­ing grad­u­ally more pop­u­lar with the help of Rossi.

How­ever, while in­ter­est in GP con­tin­u­ally grew, WSB still drew the crowds in the 2000s as Troy Bayliss won his three ti­tles for Du­cati. While the Aussie racer strug­gled when he moved to Mo­togp full time, a one-off wild­card for Du­cati at Va­len­cia in 2006 showed the level of WSB rid­ers as he cleared off into the dis­tance to take a stun­ning win.

Fog­a­rty showed he could hold his own in the Grand Prix class too. In 1990, he stood in for Pier­francesco Chili and went on to take a best fin­ish of sixth place, but it would be the 1993 500cc GP where he most im­pressed. Qual­i­fy­ing on the sec­ond row, he ran sec­ond early on af­ter Bar­ros, Doohan and Sch­wantz crashed on the first lap. He looked set to take third as the race came to a close but dra­mat­i­cally ran out of fuel and was left to coast over the line, beaten to the ros­trum by Niall Macken­zie.

Fog­a­rty’s ef­forts were re­warded in 1998, when he was awarded an MBE on the New Year Hon­ours list for ser­vices to mo­tor­bike rac­ing.

Since Fog­a­rty was forced to re­tire with in­jury in 2000, Bri­tain has won a fur­ther six world ti­tles in the hands of Neil Hodg­son, James Tose­land, Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea and in the 28 years of the cham­pi­onship’s ex­is­tence, 13 Bri­tish rid­ers have taken the United King­dom to 193 WSB vic­to­ries – some 74 more than the USA in sec­ond place. So, while it might have been a dry pe­riod on the GP scene, it cer­tainly wasn’t else­where on the world stage.

‘When con­sid­er­ing the best Bri­tish rac­ers since Sheene, you can’t ig­nore Fog­a­rty’

Brands 1999 was the UK’S biggest sin­gle­day sport­ing event

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