General

Who is the greatest British World Superbike Champion of all time?

As WorldSBK returns to Donington Park, we consider who is the greatest British World Superbike Champion of all time...

THE WORLD Superbike Championship returns to British shores this weekend with the annual jaunt to Donington Park

It's been a happy hunting ground for those flying the Union Jack with dozens of talented British riders plunging down Craner Curves over the years, so it is no coincidence that the UK has accumulated more World Championships than any other nation.

Between Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson, James Toseland, Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea, God Save the Queen has rung out for title glory on no less than 12 occasions... but which of this quintet is the most enduring? Who is the greatest British World Superbike Champion?

CARL FOGARTY

Active Seasons – 1988 to 2000 (13 seasons)

Titles – 4  (1994, 1995, 1998, 1999)

Races started - 220

Races Won - 59

Podiums - 109

Pole Positions - 21

The case for…

In the nine full seasons he raced in WorldSBK, Carl Fogarty was never far from the front and between 1993 and 1999 he was a multiple race winner on a metronomic basis. Titles in 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999 – all with Ducati – were hard-fought and won in style against riders like Carl Edwards, Troy Corser, Aaron Slight, Scott Russell and more. Blisteringly quick, with a cheeky glint in his eye, ‘Foggy’ is the timeless ‘Superbike Superstar’

The case against…

We can’t think of many… it’s a shame his career was cut short by injury but in many ways it assured his legend as one of the greatest to ever throw a leg over a racing bike.

WorldSBK Legend Rating: 10/10

NEIL HODGSON

Active Seasons – 1996 to 2003 (7 Seasons)

Titles – 1 (2003)

Races started - 147

Races Won - 16

Podiums - 41

Pole Positions – 16

The case for...

A devastatingly dominant start to the 2003 season was enough to see Hodgson through to winning 2003 WorldSBK title over with a record-breaking 13 wins over the season in total.

The case against

He only scored another 3 wins in his career (two of which were during wild-card outings) and his title win came in the year Ducati had almost free-reign over WorldSBK against just the Foggy Petronas projects and a few privateer Japanese bikes. Certainly excellent but didn’t stay around long enough to prove just how good.

WorldSBK Legend Rating: 6/10

JAMES TOSELAND

Active Seasons – 2001 – 2011 (9 Seasons)

Titles – 2 (2004, 2007)

Races started - 168

Races Won - 16

Podiums - 57

Pole Positions - 4

The case for…

Toseland is only British rider to claim WorldSBK titles with two different manufacturers. Whilst his 2004 success with Ducati had the tendency to be dismissed (see below), his performance with Ten Kate Honda was roundly impressive, not least because he defeated strong rivals in a very competitive field of big budget official bikes on his semi-factory ‘blade.

The case against…

As a factory Ducati rider in a field of almost entirely Dukes following the fall-out from the Japanese exodus of the mid-2000s, Toseland was an assumed favourite in 2004 and whilst he delivered, he didn’t have as much competition as he should have done. Curiously, whilst Toseland has two WorldSBK titles to his name, he’s only managed 16 race wins, 4 pole positions and 2 fastest laps in 168 starts. 

WorldSBK Legend Rating: 7/10

TOM SYKES

Active Seasons – 2008 Ongoing (10 seasons

Titles – 1  (2013)

Races started - 278

Races Won - 34

Podiums - 109

Pole Positions - 48

The case for…

It’s easy to forget that Kawasaki were the also-rans of WorldSBK for many, many years less than a decade ago, not least when Sykes first joined the manufacturer in 2010. And yet he was an integral part of its re-ascension into a superpower, returning them back to the top of the podium and to title glory in 2013 – it could have been back-to-back as well. He’s become a single-lap specialist too, his 48 poles thus far surpassing Troy Corser’s seemingly unbeatable record of 43.

The case against…

The arrival of Jonathan Rea at Kawasaki put Tom Sykes under the spotlight and he couldn’t quite rise to the big challenge brought by his team-mate, whilst his very active riding style didn’t always make Sykes the most ‘durable’ of riders over a race distance.

WorldSBK Legend Rating: 8/10

JONATHAN REA

Active Seasons – 2008 ongoing

Titles – 4 (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Races started - 262

Races Won - 75

Podiums - 150

Pole Positions – 19

The case for... 

His commitment to Honda during some occasionally painful years made it tough to understand exactly how quick Jonathan Rea was on a Superbike, but the moment he moved to Kawasaki it was clear he’d ‘wasted’ some years on the tricky ‘blade. He’s had the best bike but he has definitely made the absolute best of it. Tough to beat in a straight fight, Rea at his best is the best of all-time.

The case against...

Shown to be occasionally wobbly under pressure but in terms of skill, smoothness and metronomic consistency on the bike, there are few more accomplished. If he beats Bautista this year (or one day wins title with a different manufacturer) this is a 10/10

WorldSBK Legend Rating: 9.5/10

Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now

Latest Reviews

Review
Review
Review
Review

Latest Videos

Feature
Article
Article