Motorcycling: Fogarty closing on crown

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PREPARE TO break out the bunting. A rare British sporting success is anticipated this weekend when Carl Fogarty, the bludgeon-blunt talking rider from Blackburn, is expected to secure an unprecedented fourth World Superbike title.

Should the Ducati-mounted Fogarty garner the required 30 points at Hockenheim in tomorrow's German Grand Prix then the championship that was ebbing away from him after a dismal showing at Brands Hatch last month will once again be in his grasp.

Indeed, he needs only finish better than eighth in the series' remaining four races to hold off his nearest challenger, team-mate Troy Corser. A double victory before a vast travelling support at Assen last Sunday retrieved Fogarty's dominant standing, and he now has 413 points to Corser's 342 and the Hondas of Colin Edwards (323) and Aaron Slight (284).

The rapid Hockenheim will favour Fogarty, who scooped both rubbers on the circuit's sweeping curves in 1995 and won race two in '96. Yesterday Fogarty, a debunker of any biking activity outside actual racing, recorded the fourth-fastest time on the opening day of qualifying. Slight was quickest, with Corser close behind.

n Mick Doohan, the five times 500cc world champion, will obey doctors' orders and not make his comeback at the Australian Grand Prix on 3 October. The HRC Honda rider, who broke his left wrist and right leg and shoulder in a crash in Spain in May, had a corrective plate and six screws removed last Friday. "I'm still looking to get back out there, but certainly the injuries are taking longer [to heal] than I would have hoped," Doohan said.

Qualifying, Digest, page 26