Intimidatory mind games are as essential a part of the Carl Fogarty repertoire as the victories that have earned the Blackburn rider an unprecedented four World Superbike titles. So when Fogarty declares he will walk away from the pursuit of a fifth title should his winning ways disappear, it is hard not to conclude that Foggy is indulging in reverse psychology.
The true measure of his conviction will become apparent at Kyalami in South Africa tomorrow when Fogarty wheels out a scarlet Ducati for the start of his championship defence. "I've always been a bad loser so if I ride round this year and find I'm not bothered about finishing second or third, there's no point in wasting my time or the people who pay me," he told Motor Cycle News this week.
Honda's SP-1, ridden by the Texan Colin Edwards, should pose a stern challenge to Ducati's hegemony while Fogarty's former team-mate, Troy Corser, on an Aprillia RSV Mille, will be eager to right perceived wrongs after he was sacked by Ducati.
WORLD SUPERBIKE CALENDAR: 2 April South Africa (Kyalami); 23 April Australia (Phillip Island); 30 April Japan (Sugo); 14 May Great Britain (Donington Park); 21 May Italy (Monza); 4 June Germany (Hockenheim); 18 June San Marino (Misano); 25 June Spain (Valencia); 9 July United States (Laguna Seca); 6 Aug Europe Brands Hatch (Great Britain); 3 Sept Netherlands (Assen); 10 Sept Germany (Oschersleben); 8 Oct tba;15 Oct Italy (Imola).Reuse content