Thursday, October 05, 2006

WSBK: Where Next, Foggy?

Carl Fogarty stands at a crossroads in the World Superbike Championship.
The 4-times World Superbike Champion's team, Foggy Petronas Racing, will not carry on in its present form, with Petronas pulling out after this year's final round at Magny Cours, France. The team's workers have been issued with redundancy notices. This doesn't necessarily mean that the team will come to an end. It is fairly standard practise to lay off the workers when a team is unsure of its future, and re-hire them when a sponsor is found.
Petronas had initially hoped to make a 990cc, 4-stroke MotoGP bike. When this failed to come to fruition, they decided to convert it into a World Superbike, and team up with recently-retired champion Carl Fogarty to form Foggy Petronas Racing. The WSBK rules at that time allowed for 750cc 4-cylinder, 900cc 3-cylinder, or 1000cc 2-cylinder machines. The Petronas triple was therefore homologated as a 900cc machine, the FP1. (I say homologated, but it is a long-standing joke that nobody has ever seen one of the 150 road machines, despite it being 5 years since they were officially built.)
Unfortunately, the rug was quickly pulled from under Foggy's feet when the rules were changed, allowing 1000cc machines regardless of the number of cylinders (4-cylinder machines being forced to stay slightly closer to road-bike specs.) The FP1 slipped further and further behind due to its 100cc capacity disadvantage. Homologating another 150 bikes with 1000cc engines would have been impossibly expensive.
Now the Petronas 5-year plan has come to an end.
Rumour has it that Foggy will very likely stay in WSBK next year. His mechanics and engineers are all highly respected, and probably belong in a World Championship series.
Will Foggy manage to secure a sponsor to pay for decent Ducati 999's? He won all of his championships on the Italian marque, and spent a year with them as a consultant.
It is said that he is having difficulty finding a sponsor because he doesn't have bikes and riders secured, but he cannot secure bikes and riders without a sponsor. Catch 22.
Surely something will come together. It is important for WSBK to have a famous name like Foggy around, and his single-mindedness and ability to start a fight in an empty room make him great to have around. It would be a shame if he didn't have the chance to feud with Max Biaggi, in many ways a similar character.
Here's hoping that Foggy sticks around for the 2007 season.


Anonymous said...

Jimmy, I have recently read that Ducati has pulled out of the AMA Superbike Championship and that Neil Hodgson has been promised a Ducati most likely to ride in the World Superbike Championship. Do you think that he could be the Ducati rider that Fogarty is looking for to remain in the circus?

Jimmy said...

Hodgson and Foggy? Hmmmm...
The last I knew, they had a bit of a feud going on. Hodgson had said Foggy never went to MotoGP because he was too scared of losing to Doohan.
If Hodge ends up in WSBK it looks like it might be with Foggy though, so maybe they'll patch things up.