1: 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. The record speaks for itself, but much has been written about Carl’s attitude to his rivals. Today, Carl is mellower and realises that he was doing what he had to do to keep his focus and win races. “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.”
They pretty much got the rules right, from the start… Jap fours versus Italian V-twins: the range of bikes was brilliant. Okay, so the rules had to change over time, more weight for the twins and come 2003 allow the litre-class four-cylinders in, but – for us – the first 15 years saw some of the best road and race bikes ever made. Here’s our contentious pick of the top 10!