While at Goodwood Festival of Speed, I sat down with the one and only Carl Fogarty – four-time World Superbikes champion. Read my full conversation with him here.
“So, I’ve caught you just as you’ve come off the hill climb. How was it? How are you enjoying Goodwood this year?”
Yeah, I always enjoy it. It’s a great festival, to be honest, if you’re in to motorsport [there are] cars, bikes, everything! You know what, going up the hill is probably the worst bit, you know what I mean, cos’ it’s like – on the bike there’s not much you can do really. It’s a slippy, dusty track because of the cars going up there, so you kind of wobble up there, do a lot of hanging around but it’s just the whole event – the atmosphere of the event and being in the drivers club and doing the ball on Saturday evening. The entertainment and just seeing the people you haven’t seen for a while – that’s the best thing about it. The bit you’ve got to do, which is a bit boring for me because I’ve raced motorbikes, is wobble up someone’s driveway on a dusty drive, on someone else’s bike. It’s what the people want to see and you get to see us all here which is very rare for the bike guys and car guys to be in the same place – and the fans love it
“So you’ve been with Triumph this weekend, testing the Moto2 engine – how is it feeling?”
I haven’t actually tested that bike yet. I rode it’s bigger brother – the Speed Triple and the Speed Triple R which I rode this morning. This afternoon I’m riding the Moto2 bike. But again, you’re not really going to know how it feels because you’re tickling the bike up the hill really slowly. It will be interesting to see how it does feel – it sounds amazing and everyone’s looking forward to it [being used] next year, making its debut in the Moto2 championship. It’s a fantastic engine – a great power band and great characteristics of power and it sounds incredible.
“At Goodwood, it is obviously hard to tell as this is a hill climb and not a race track – but do you think this new engine will change the Moto2 races next season?”
It’s just the same really isn’t it, because everyone’s running the same engine – everyone is running these speed triple engines. I think the best think about it is that it’s different, you know. What they run now is a Honda, it’s a twin cylinder so with this being a three cylinder it just adds that other dimension to it and makes it a bit more interesting I think. And it will certainly make for a better sounding bike than what they’re running now.
“You were part of such an incredible era of superbike racing – some fans think that we might have lost some of that sparky racing. How do you think we can get back to that level or racing and entertainment?”
I think superbikes will always struggle to get back to the dizzy heights it reached because of MotoGP being the biggest four-stroke championship in the world. But when I raced in it [world superbikes], it was the biggest four-stroke championship in the world. Then in 2003, MotoGP was born and that stuck a big nail in the coffin of World Superbikes and it’s never really recovered from that date, to be honest. It’s a great championship and it means a lot to me. There’s some great riders in it – Jonathan Rea is a fantastic rider. But it’s never going to reach the heights it got to because there’s another four-stroke championship that is bigger – but in my day, there wasn’t, you see. It’s sad in some ways and people can’t see the obvious reason why it’s never going to be big again and that’s the obvious reason why.
“Do you think there’s room for riders to be switching between GP and Superbikes?”
Yeah that’s always happened anyway – that’s always happened between the two. There’s always swapping between the two. It depends on which deal you can get with who in what particular year. But that will always happen and it works both ways.
“So you mentioned Jonny Rea earlier – obviously he is now closing in on his fourth title like you did….”
Well he’s not got four yet! He’s got two more [races] to go! I’m sure he’s not counting the fourth until he’s mathematically got it! But he’s got a good lead, hasn’t he.
“What do you think the battles would have been like if you two had been racing at the same time?”
It’s hard to compare, it really is! I think Jonathan is one of those kind of riders that would have run up front in any era of Superbikes or any racing. I have a lot of time for him, he’s a great rider and I couldn’t think of anyone better or that I’d be happier to lose my records to. I’ve held them for about 25 years now – I think that’s long enough anyway!
“Do you think you could beat him?”
Oh I’d beat him! Of course I would! I have to say that!
“One of the things that people love about Goodwood is the mix of racing and road machines on display here. So what have you got in your garage at home at the moment?”
I’ve got, at home, I’ve got a Triumph Speed Triple, a Triumph Street Scrambler, a KTM Dirtbike, I’ve got a Sherco trials bike, a Honda Flat Track bike – so a few there! Oh, and the Ducati that I won the championship on in ’98, that’s in there as well. Just a few!
“So what’s your favourite road bike that you’ve ever ridden?”
Ooo! God! I think my favourite bike of all time is probably the Ducati 916, but my favourite bike to ride on the road is probably the one I’ve got now, my Triumph Bonneville. It’s great to have on the road, I love it. It’s so easy to ride and so comfortable.
“So looking back at your career as a whole, who is the best rider you’ve ever battled against? Who really was the hardest guy to ride against?”
That’s really a hard question – there were so many guys I raced against. Um, probably some of the American guys like Colin Edwards and John Kocinski were quite difficult – probably Kocinski if I had to pick one. He was a very talented guy.
“And is there any rider, maybe from now, or any era gone by, that you wish you could have raced against? Someone that you look at on the bike and think – yeah! I’d love to give him a run for his money!”
Ah yeah – Rossi probably! Everyone would love to race against Rossi! Or even Kenny Roberts, it would have been great to race against him. Or Barry Sheene – people like that.
“So I end every interview with the same question – If you have to invite three motorsport figures, from any era, to a fantasy dinner party, who would you choose and why?”
I guess I’d have to pick three of the guys I’ve really admired more than anything. If I had to pick someone from four wheels it would probably be Ayrton Senna. I was a big fan of him and the way he drove. Then I guess Mike Hailwood and probably Kenny Roberts. Yeah – those three would be quite interesting to chat to!