"Four-stroke MotoGP was a nail in coffin for WorldSBK" – Carl Fogarty

Racing legend Carl Fogarty believes the move to four-stroke machinery by MotoGP in 2002 dealt a huge blow to the WorldSBK Championship

Carl Fogarty

The shift from the two-stroke 500GP class to the four-stroke MotoGP World Championship dealt a heavy blow to the WorldSBK Championship it hasn’t ever been able to recover from, according to four-time champion Carl Fogarty.

Fogarty - title-winner in 1994, 1995, 1998 and 1999 – is one of the WorldSBK Championship’s most successful racers, notching up 59 wins in 220 starts, a record that was only surpassed in 2019 by Jonathan Rea.

During the perceived heyday of 90s and early 2000s, the WorldSBK Championship was seen as a strong alternative series in terms of racing and rider participation, but the emergence of a rebranded MotoGP in 2002 using four-stroke engines brought the two series’ closer in ethos. 

Critics say it essentially established a clearer hierarchy that placed MotoGP higher on the motorsport ladder that WorldSBK as a production-based series could never compete with.

It is a move Fogarty believes has contributed to WorldSBK’s decline in recent years, even if he accepts a lack of characters and TV exposure plays their part too.

“When MotoGP was born in 2002, it was the nail in the coffin of the Superbike World Championship,” he told Speedweek. “Since then, the championship has been struggling to recover from it. I cannot say exactly what is lacking today. Maybe because of the character of the drivers, lack of TV coverage, I don't know.”

Despite this he still thinks the series is important for brands to sell their motorcycles and is impressed by the quality of racing

“People want to see motorcycles that are the same as those that they drive on the street. And there are prototypes. It's like Formula 1 and touring cars. I love superbike races, they are incredible races.”