Carl Fogarty is, quite simply, the legend of World Superbike racing.
The crowds worshipped his gutsy, aggressive style and a determination to win at all costs that produced four World Superbike titles and a total of eight world crowns.
Foggy, as he was always known to his legion of fans, grew up in a racing family, with father George himself a road racer. But, although Carl was comfortable riding his early bikes in the fields surrounding his Blackburn home, his competitive debut did not come until he was 14. From local motocross racing he soon realised that he wanted to follow in George’s tracks into road racing and immediately showed his natural talent on the club scene. It was not just talent, however, that separated this fast teenager from a host of other hopefuls. From day one Carl Fogarty had an unwavering commitment to winning races.
Backed by funding from his father, Carl had soon progressed onto the international stage and at the age of 23 was the Formula 1 TT world champion, a feat he repeated the following year. When that series lost world championship status from the FIM, Carl remained unbeatable and again comfortably lifted the world cup. But, having won his first Isle of Man race the previous year, a feat never achieved by his father and an immediate ambition of the young Fogarty, he really hit the headlines with a double win on the island on 1990. The racing fraternity was realising that a special talent was starting to mature.
His first chance in the World Superbike championship came as a privateer in 1991 for three quarters of the season and, after a promising start, Carl embarked on a hectic 1992 season that was to bring him his fourth world title when he competed in the World Endurance championship as well as continuing in World Superbikes, again with his own team. He lifted the endurance title for Kawasaki with ease but it was now obvious that he had to focus his efforts on the main prize – the World Superbike title. And 1993 saw his first factory ride with Raymond Roche’s factory Ducati team and a momentous tussle with American Scott Russell. Despite winning 11 races, a tendency to crash at important times forced Carl into second place. He was in no mood, however, to repeat that result the following year.
Again Russell was the main protagonist and the championship race went down to the wire at Phillip Island. The fierce Fogarty determination proved too hot to handle this time and Carl was on top of the world Down Under when he lifted the coveted crown for the first time. Having tasted championship success, the outcome of the 1995 season was almost a formality as Carl strode to a consecutive title.
After trying pastures new with Honda in 1996, when lack of rear mid-corner grip plagued his efforts, Carl returned to the Ducati fold in 1997 but could only manage second place behind John Kocinski in a tight championship race which went down to the final round. But then, with the arrival of Davide Tardozzi, Carl rediscovered the old winning ways and pipped his former rider, Troy Corser, and arch-rival Aaron Slight, to the 1998 title in Sugo. History repeated itself the following year when Carl was untouchable in claiming his fourth World Superbike crown.
The most glittering career in superbike history came to an abrupt end when, at the second race of the 2000 season, a freak crash at Phillip Island shattered Carl’s shoulder and, later that year, forced him into retirement. But the hunger for success had not diminished and, when the chance to reassert himself at the top of the superbike tree arrived with the Petronas-backed project, Foggy Petronas Racing, Carl jumped at the chance to become a team owner. However, funding to continue the race team proved difficult to find at the end of the Petronas project and Carl decided to focus on a variety of new ventures.