Top 10 WSB rid­ers

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CLASSIC LOOK -

Carl Fog­a­rty, UK

59 wins, cham­pion 1994, 1995, 1998 & 1999 For many King Carl was the man who put WSB on the map – at least here in the UK. Much has been writ­ten about Carl’s at­ti­tude to his ri­vals. To­day Carl is mel­lower and re­alises that he did what he did to keep his fo­cus. “When I look back now, I can see I was pretty mean,” he says. “I didn’t need to be as self­ish, out­spo­ken and ar­ro­gant as I was – but I guess I cre­ated a mon­ster! Some­times I’d say I was go­ing to do some­thing and that would heap more pres­sure on me. And then the pre­dic­tion would come out true, but why put my­self through that? “I think that I didn’t want any­one get­ting near me or that no-one had the right to be on the same cir­cuit as me; maybe my head was gone? I would say the truth though… when the bike was shit or the tyres were crap, I would say it. If I crashed in the wet and it was my fault I’d say that too. When it came to ri­val­ries the press didn’t help! They’d ask what my pigs were called and if they didn’t have names, you’d say some­thing as a joke like ‘Aaronetta’ or ‘Scott’ and sud­denly it’s out there! “Look­ing back it’s part of what made WSB great. Who was my big­gest ri­val? Well, they all were and it changed from Scott, to Aaron, to Colin and Troy Corser, but I think John Kocin­ski was the tough­est and the most tal­ented.”

Fred Merkel, US

8 wins, cham­pion 1988 & 1989 When a man has the words: ‘IF YOU WANT BLOOD, YOU’VE GOT IT’ on the back of his hel­met, you know not to mess with him and thanks to those first two WSB ti­tles in 1988 and 1989, we place Flyin’ Fred Merkel sec­ond. Why? Well, first of all his back­ground gave the se­ries much-needed cred­i­bil­ity, be­cause, by the time he came to WSB he had al­ready been one of the great­est AMA rid­ers in his­tory, be­fore be­ing ‘let go’ by Amer­i­can Honda. Se­condly, he had charisma and per­son­al­ity by the bucket-load. Don’t think that the new-for-1988 RC30 was a cert for the ti­tle, as his Rumi team didn’t get much support from Honda and nor was it re­li­able. Also, the Ital­ian op­po­si­tion was much faster in a straight line and out of the turns – some­thing that would dog the 750cc fours for the first 15 years.

Doug Polen, US

27 race wins, cham­pion 1991 & 1992 Doug slips to third thanks to the su­pe­ri­or­ity of his Fast by Fer­racci Du­cati 888 (it had a 25 kilo weight ad­van­tage over the fours) but let’s not for­get that he also took Suzuki’s first win in 1989 on an un­fan­cied GSX-R750 in Ja­pan where he spent much of his early ca­reer. Af­ter his 1991 and 1992 cham­pi­onships, Doug then went back home to the US in 1993. He re­turned to WSB to ride the new Honda RC45 in 1994 in WSB, but he was over­shad­owed by Slight and didn’t ap­pear in 1995, where his ride was taken by Si­mon Cra­far in Rumi colours. Polen would later take the World En­durance ti­tle for Suzuki in 1997 and, iron­i­cally, take the same ti­tle on the RC45 a year later.

Scott Rus­sell, US

14 race wins, cham­pion 1993 One of the real char­ac­ters of the early years of World Su­per­bikes and the only man to win the ti­tle on a trans­verse four-cylin­der 750… He and Foggy had a war on and off the track, with Scott claim­ing the Du­catis should have been in Grand Prix rac­ing and be­moan­ing the 750cc four ver­sus 1000cc V-twin

rules. But he and his Muzzy Kawasaki team man­aged to do the busi­ness against the then dom­i­nant twins. When Foggy went to Honda and the RC45 in 1996 he said at Day­tona: “Fog­a­rty won’t win the championship or even a race.” When Carl did win a race, Scott rang him up to con­grat­u­late him. The two would grow to re­spect each other. He re­turned from a semi-suc­cess­ful time in 500cc Grand Prix in 1995/96 to race for Yamaha in 1997, but it seemed the old fire had gone. He was a great cham­pion and will be re­mem­bered as a Kawasaki man.

Aaron Slight, NZ

13 race wins Prob­a­bly the best man never to win the se­ries, Slighty was run­ner-up in 1996 and 1998 and third in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1997. He scored his first win on the Kawasaki ZXR750 in 1992 and was a three-time Suzuka 8-Hour win­ner. Al­ways a critic of the rules that favoured the V-twins, Aaron was nev­er­the­less a fierce com­peti­tor who never gave up.

Colin Ed­wards, US

31 race wins, cham­pion 2000 & 2002 Colin’s WSB ca­reer was one of two halves: suf­fer­ance on the four-cylin­der Yamaha YZF750 where he would frus­trat­ingly watch the V-twins dis­ap­pear and one of re­demp­tion when he fi­nally got a V-twin and took two ti­tles. One of the char­ac­ters in WSB, he would be­come a Mo­togp stal­wart.

Troy Corser, AUS

33 race wins, cham­pion 1996 & 2005 Al­ways fast and for such a long time the pole/ su­per­pole king, Troy Corser had been Aussie su­per­bike champ (RC30) in 1993 and then AMA champ (Du­cati) in 1994 be­fore hav­ing oc­ca­sional races in WSB in 1995. In his first full year he took his first ti­tle (1996) dur­ing which his non-fac­tory team had to com­pete against the works team of John Kocin­ski and Neil Hodg­son. Ru­mours were that they weren’t quite get­ting the support Corser’s speed and re­sults de­served… but he won the ti­tle any­way in a tense four-way math­e­mat­i­cal bat­tle at the fi­nal round at Phillip Is­land. It could have been Kocin­ski, Slight, Foggy or Corser – but Troy had the up­per hand and third in race one sealed it. He would be a WSB reg­u­lar for years, tak­ing Aprilia’s first WSB win with the RSV Mille, a sec­ond ti­tle with Suzuki in 2005, rid­ing the Foggy Petronas triple and rid­ing with new fac­tory BMW un­til he re­tired in 2011.

John Kocin­ski, US

14 wins, cham­pion 1997 No-one could ever doubt the 1990 250cc GP champ’s skill, just his con­sis­tency. An up and down year on the Du­cati in 1996 and team ac­ri­mony ended with team boss Vir­ginio Fer­rari ac­tu­ally beg­ging Carl Fog­a­rty to beat him on the Honda. Both rid­ers swapped over for 1997 and Cas­trol Honda made him feel com­fort­able and comfy enough to de­liver the RC45’S only WSB championship.

Troy Bayliss, AUS

52 wins, cham­pion 2001, 2006 & 2008 Bat­tling Bayliss is only so low down on this list as he only really joined the show in 2000 as a re­place­ment for Foggy from the third round of the se­ries that year. The man is a leg­end and has re­cently gone back to rac­ing in the Aus­tralia su­per­bike se­ries at 49!

Noriyuki Haga, JAP

43 wins An­other ‘best rider not to win a ti­tle’, Haga would start 312 WSB races in a ca­reer span­ning 17 years. The ex All-ja­pan su­per­bike champ took the age­ing YZF750 to its sec­ond win at Sugo in 1997 (af­ter Fabrizio Pirovano’s at Es­to­ril in 1993.) Famed for his slid­ing tech­nique, Haga would fin­ish run­ner-up in the se­ries in 2000, 2007 and 2009.

ABOVE: Foggy was king of WSB in the 1990s.

BE­LOW: Fred Merkel, dou­ble champ!

Scott Rus­sell. RIGHT: Corser took wins for Aprilia.RIGHT: Kocin­ski rode for Du­cati in 1996 and won on the RC45 in 1997.

Ed­wards took two ti­tles. BE­LOW: Slighty never gave up...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.