We’re expecting an SBK World Championship finale where Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea will have to roll up their sleeves, after Portimão, in order to try and counter the cavalcade of the leader of the pack, Alvaro Bautista. After his hat-trick in Catalunya, the Spanish rider arrived in Portugal with a 59-point advantage over Toprak, the first of his pursuers. But the show the trio has so far offered us doesn’t seem to have convinced Carl Fogarty, who sees the fight for the 2022 title less compelling than it was in his day.
“There’s always great racing, whether it was in my era, before me, or now,” The King said in an interview with The Classic: Silverstone, organized by title sponsor Adrian Flux. “I think maybe it’s lost that sort of, I don’t know, personality. Everyone seems to be really nice now. They all like each other and go riding and cycling together. I liked it when there was a bit of an edge to it, and people didn’t really like each other.”
“When it was Aussies against Brits and Americans, I think the English-speaking nations always had this thing,” he explained. “But now there’s not really many Aussies or Americans anymore for whatever reason. In World Superbikes it’s a lot of Brits, Italians and the Spanish. They don’t seem to have the same sort of aggression to fall out with you or to win or to say what’s on their mind.”
“I don’t think any of us really liked each other, unless that was just me,” the four-time SBK champion continued as he spoke about the years when he took part in the great rivalries that animated the SBK races. “Having said that, after a race weekend on a Sunday night we’d often find ourselves in the same hotel, bar or pizza place having something to eat and a few beers and everything would seem to be okay.. Then on a Monday you thought; ‘I hate these guys again, I’ve got to think about the race next week’.”
A slightly different dynamic from the one we now witness on race weekends. “I hated everyone,” Carl said, laughing. “I don’t know why, but I did. We didn’t go cycling together. We hated each other. It was fun. Those were good times.”
But what has changed so much since then?
“It’s just different now,” Fogarty commented. “It’s a lot more politically correct now. Maybe the guys can’t be the personalities they want to be because they are controlled a lot by the teams, sponsors, the media. Obviously, social media plays a big part in that.. But the races are still good. There are good riders.”
Less personality, more electronics
What has changed compared to the era of Foggy, however, is not only the attitude of the riders on and off the track, but also the technological level of the bikes, which has further contributed to even out the races and the panorama.
“The technology on the bikes is really amazing. A MotoGP is a million miles away from the bikes I was racing. On my bike, everything was mechanical, everything was adjusted with a screwdriver or a wrench. Now, some guy plugs in a laptop, and everything changes. The electronics of the bike are incredible,” the Blackburn-born rider explained.
“I think it’s difficult to identify who’s a really good rider or a talented one, given how good the bikes are. I know the guys get excited when they watch TV and say, ‘That’s great, the first fifteen riders are grouped together in the lap by a second’, and I think, ‘Well, there’s a reason for that.’ The bikes are so good that it’s difficult for a rider to emerge, like in my era, or in any other era, up until today.”