One of Britain’s greatest and most successful racers of all time, Carl Fogarty had a formidable career on both the roads and the short circuits, the latter seeing him win four World Superbike Championships for Ducati and a total of 59 race wins, both figures only recently beaten by Jonathan Rea.
Son of former racer George Fogarty, Carl’s career begun in 1984 when aged 18 and just four years later, he was crowned World Formula Champion for the first time, a clear indication of what lay ahead. Combining both the roads and the circuits, Foggy, as he was affectionately known, would retain his title for the next two years, when he also took three wins at the Isle of Man TT but as the series died out, he quickly made the jump to the flourishing World Superbike series.
It was here where he truly made his mark on the World Championship scene, his ferocious determination, aggression and competitiveness seeing him take the aforementioned four titles and 59 wins between 1992 and 1999. The success catapulted him to not only the forefront of British racing but also into the mainstream as ‘Foggy Mania’ saw up to 120,000 Brits flock to the race circuits.
Never shy from controversy, Fogarty was a master of mind games and intimidation, factors which sometimes broke the opposition but also rubbed people up the wrong way! A former outright lap record holder at the TT, Fogarty received an MBE for his success and could have added more titles and wins to his collection had it not been for a career-ending crash at Phillip island, Australia at the beginning of the 2000 season.
Post retirement, he went onto to form his own team, Foggy Petronas, and after a spell in the wilderness, returned to the TV screens in 2014 when he took a popular win in ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ A more placid character in retirement, it led to a resurgence in popularity in front of a whole new audience with subsequent appearances on other TV shows but here’s a look at ten of his finest racing moments.
1985 Lightweight Newcomers Manx Grand Prix
Following in the footsteps of his father George, a podium finisher at both the Isle of Man TT and North West 200, Fogarty started racing in 1984 and only just missed out on the prestigious 250cc Marlboro Clubman’s Championship the following year.
However, 1985 did see him take his first step on the road racing ladder when, despite having only just turned 20, he entered the 250cc Newcomers race at the Manx Grand Prix, the stepping stone to the Isle of Man TT.
His natural talent for the roads immediately shone through when he took victory by 16s and later in the week he took third in the feature 250cc race despite being up against riders with vastly more experience than him around the 37.73-mile Mountain Course.
1988 Formula One Ulster Grand Prix
Two successive broken legs, at Oulton Park in 1986 and at Silverstone in 1987, meant Fogarty was struggling to continue with 250cc racing so for 1988, sponsor Appleby Glade provided him with one of the all-new 750cc RC30 Honda’s for both the World and British Formula One Championships.
The former soon became his priority particularly after finishing fourth at the TT although five-time champion Joey Dunlop continued to lead the standings as they arrived at the Ulster Grand Prix for the sixth of the eight-round championship. And the five-time champion was expected to extend his lead further at his home event due to Fogarty’s lack of experience around the 7.4-mile Dundrod circuit.
However, Dunlop made an error with his tyre choice whereas Fogarty fitted the correct combination for the damp but drying conditions and romped to victory – and with Dunlop only managing seventh, he closed to within five points of the championship lead. Victory at the next round in Italy and then fifth at the final round at Donington Park saw Fogarty clinch his first world championship with Dunlop second, some 20.5 points adrift.
1989 Isle of Man TT Production 750cc
1989 was Fogarty’s fourth appearance at the Isle of Man TT and he was still searching for his first podium, with fourth in 1988 his previous best finish. The same result was taken in the opening race of 1989, the World Formula One Championship race, but with a lap of almost 120mph, Fogarty had certainly established himself as a main contender.
The RC30 was again seen as the bike to have with Fogarty continuing with support from Appleby Glade whilst arch rival Steve Hislop, winner of the F1 race with the first ever 120mph+ lap, rode for the factory Honda team. The Production 750cc race put the riders on a more level playing field though and so it proved.
Starting at number 8, Fogarty was locked in battle for the entire four laps with starting partner Dave Leach (750cc Yamaha) and Hislop who set the initial pace before having to stop for fuel at the end of lap one whilst Fogarty was able to stretch two laps from his similar machine. After the last round of pit stops, all three were together on the road once more and it was a simple final lap dash.
Hislop, who’d started ten seconds ahead, sat back to give fellow Honda rider Fogarty the best chance and it worked. Fogarty and Leach swapped the lead repeatedly but as Leach’s exhaust began to work its way loose, it allowed Fogarty to dive ahead at Brandish and he pulled away to eventually win by a slender 1.8s for his maiden TT win.
1990 Senior TT
For 1990, Fogarty was promoted to the factory Honda Britain team where he joined Hislop, Phillip McCallen and Graeme McGregor on the all-conquering RC30 Honda. The Formula One race again opened proceedings at the TT where Fogarty took a start to finish victory after Hislop was hindered by brake problems in the early stages, eventually finishing ninth although he did have the consolation of a new outright lap record of 122.63mph.
Fogarty then took second in the Supersport 400cc race and fourth in the Junior before lining up for the closing Senior race which was delayed by more than five hours due to heavy rain hitting the island. By the time it got underway at 4.30pm, conditions were best described as mixed with some parts of the course wetter than others as the rain began to ease.
The mixed weather made tyre choice difficult but Fogarty showed his prowess once more by leading by some 22s at the end of the first lap. A number of riders pulled in to retire in the opening laps, including Hislop, but Fogarty pressed on with his lead at half distance now more than a minute.
Going into the final lap, Fogarty’s lead over second-placed Trevor Nation was 74s and with conditions improving all the time around the Mountain Course, Fogarty took his third TT win, and arguably his finest, by a commanding 78s.
1992 Donington Park WSB
With the exception of the Formula One race (where they finished second to Hislop on the awesome RVF machine), Fogarty and Honda turned their back on the TT in 1991 to focus on the flourishing World Superbike Championship but, despite finishing in a solid seventh overall at their first attempt, they parted ways at the end of the season.
It put Fogarty back to privateer status for 1992 where he just about scraped enough money to purchase an 888 Ducati to ride in selected rounds of the World Championship. After two lowly points-scoring finishes at the opening round in Spain, things went from bad to worse at his home round at Donington Park when he crashed out of the first race whilst leading.
Fearing he’d blown any chances of further support, Fogarty went back out for the second race and, putting the crash behind him, soon established himself in the lead. He wasn’t about to make a mistake for a second time though and went on to claim a dream first WSB win from future team manager Raymond Roche.
Further sponsorship was gained and it allowed him to contest the majority of the season where, aided by another podium at Assen, he finished ninth overall. The factory Ducati team duly signed him up for the 1993 season.
1992 Senior TT
Widely regarded as one of the greatest Isle of Man TT Races of all time, the 1992 Senior TT saw Fogarty go head to head with arch rival Hislop, the Brit riding the Loctite Yamaha vacated by the Scot and Hislop himself on the unfamiliar Norton.
Both were hell bent on taking the victory having failed to register a win all week and the duo slotted into first and second at the end of the opening 37.73-miles with Fogarty holding a 1.2s lead. Second time around and Hislop lapped four seconds quicker to turn his deficit into an advantage of 2.8s but the gap was fluctuating between every timing point. It was, quite simply, an epic duel in the sunshine between the two fastest men around the TT Course.
With Fogarty at number 4 and Hislop at 19, the duo never saw each other on the road and Fogarty nosed ahead once more as they reached half distance albeit by just one second. However, Hislop flew on the fourth lap to move some 7.4s clear, the biggest lead anyone would have in the race. Despite the exhaust breaking and the fairing coming loose, Fogarty had no tactics other than to go as fast as possible and he shaved two seconds off Hislop’s lead as they went into the final lap.
Fogarty was the first to complete the lap with a new outright lap record of 123.61mph and then had an agonising wait to see if he’d done enough. The white Norton of Hislop took the chequered flag just a second slower at 123.50mph, also inside the old lap record, to take the win by 4.4s whilst Fogarty’s new lap record remained unbroken for some seven years.
1994 Phillip Island WSB
Fogarty should have taken his first World Superbike title in 1993 having won 11 races to Scott Russell’s five but the Brit had too many DNF’s (five) compared to the American (two) and it was he who won the title. However, Fogarty didn’t have to wait long to take his first championship.
1994 was again a year-long battle between Ducati’s Fogarty and the Kawasaki of Russell, the new 916 giving Fogarty early impetus before suffering a broken wrist which allowed Russell to win four races in a row. Fogarty then got into his stride with a succession of victories only to have a disastrous penultimate round at Donington.
He only scored 13 points compared to Russell’s 40 but going into the final round at Phillip Island in Australia, there was only five points between them. This time, Fogarty didn’t crack under the pressure and instead it was Russell who did, finishing second to the Brit in the first race when he virtually gave up in the race, and title fight, when he waved Fogarty by.
Fogarty won the race and then took second in the final race of the year to take his first World Superbike Championship by 25 points.
1995 Brands Hatch WSB
After his 1994 success, Fogarty went from strength to strength in 1995, dominating the championship from the word go and with Sky Sports beaming all the events live into the homes of the UK fans, ‘Foggy Mania’ was very much alive and kicking.
Nowhere was that seen more than at Brands Hatch in August, venue for the eighth round of the championship. By the time Fogarty arrived at the Kent venue, his series lead was already 116 points having won seven of the 14 previous races but the pressure to succeed in front of his home fans remained. And with the meeting seeing more than 60,000 fans show up, that pressure increased ten-fold.
British racing hadn’t seen anything like it for decades but Fogarty didn’t disappoint his hoard of fans. Despite never having previously won a race, of any description, at the venue, Foggy took pole and then trounced the opposition in both races to put one firm hand on his second World championship.
With four more wins taken at the remaining eight races he duly took the title with two rounds to spare, his eventual winning margin over second-placed Troy Corser a whopping 139 points!
1996 Hockenheim WSB
After two back-to-back titles with Ducati, the latter demoralising the rest of the field, Fogarty was expected to dominate the series for the immediate years ahead. However, he astounded the paddock by leaving the Italian manufacturer for Honda.
Money was an undoubted factor with Fogarty being disappointed with what Ducati had offered him but he was also unhappy with the lack of organisation, something which couldn’t be said for Neil Tuxworth’s Castrol Honda outfit, the man who’d managed the Honda team for whom Fogarty rode for in 1990-91.
There was also added incentive in the move as many people were suggesting Fogarty could only win on a Ducati but with Honda’s RC45 not exactly setting the world on fire, winning just two races in the hands of Aaron Slight, it seemed to be a considerable gamble.
It certainly looked that way too as Fogarty struggled at the first two rounds, a best finish of sixth seeing him already 52 points adrift of the pace setting Troy Corser. Things got worse when Slight won the opening race at round three at the high-speed Hockenheim circuit in Germany with Carl back in fifth some 25 seconds behind.
The team and Fogarty made some radical chassis changes for the second race and another piece of the Fogarty legend came to fruition as he took the race win ahead of Slight. Another win was taken in Italy with a now customary double taken at Assen but just as it looked like the combination of Fogarty and the RC45 had become title challengers, he announced he was moving back to Ducati for the 1997 season.
1998 Sugo WSB
The 1998 World Superbike Championship was a three-horse race between Fogarty, fellow Ducati rider Troy Corser and Honda’s Aaron Slight and arriving at the final round at Sugo, Japan all three had a chance of lifting the title.
Just six points covered the trio with Corser leading the way on 328.5 points, half a point clear of Slight with Fogarty only 5.5 points further back. However, Sugo hadn’t always been a happy hunting ground for the Brit with only two wins at the venue and with the grid regularly packed with local stars on factory machinery some races had seen him finish outside the top ten.
That made him third favourite in many people’s eyes but he was the one in the ascendancy and after taking the first part of the season to get used to both the bike and his new team, managed by Davide Tardozzi, he’d cut the deficit from 33 points after round eight to the aforementioned six after round 11.
Corser cracked first and a mistake in Sunday morning warm-up put him out of the two races whilst Slight also struggled with the pressure and couldn’t get his Honda to work around the undulating circuit. Fogarty was the one who handled the situation the best and third and fourth place finishes behind fast local men saw him clinch his third title with Slight 4.5 points adrift after only managing sixth and seventh.
Defending his title, Fogarty’s 1999 campaign mirrored that of the 1995 season and he was simply untouchable throughout. No one headed him in the points standings all year and, aided by 11 wins from the 26 races, he took his fourth WSB crown by a commanding 128 points.
His home round at Brands Hatch was witnessed by a staggering 121,000 fans, the biggest single day attendance at any British sporting event that year. It was a truly remarkable crowd and one that perfectly illustrated the pulling power Fogarty had and the high regard he was held in by the British public.
A hero to his legion of fans, Fogarty did more than anyone to elevate Superbikes to a whole new level, not just in the UK but across the world. Single-handedly taking on the rest of the world, Fogarty’s burning desire to win endeared him to the public and he dragged motorcycle racing back into the UK mainstream, a fact that cannot be underestimated.
One comment on “Top 10 Carl Fogarty Racing Moments”
Very tough, gnarly guy. Won it twice at the end of the 90’s at a time when the Honda had established itself as the best bike as well.
Just to go off on a slight tangent, the more I look at Aaron Slight the more I think he wasn’t actually that good. While the Honda had handling problems the first three years Slight was on it, he was also on it for another four years after that when they got it as just as good as the Ducati together with it’s already greater horsepower. Nowhere near as good or as tough as Carl.
The difference in bikes was embarrassing in ’98. Ducati’s factory bike wasn’t good for the second straight year and Carl (not looking fully fit for most of it) was putting himself at serious personal risk just to stay on Slight’s [and Chili’s] tail you may remember, such was the mediocrity of Foggy’s bike. Yet Carl still beat him which is very telling. Slight didn’t deserve the title. Any year.
Now Haga….how he never won the title I don’t know. The Randy Mamola of Superbike.