Motorcycling: Superbikes' quandary over the `easy' riders

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The Independent Online
FOR A racing series that prides itself on open competition right across the field - raising an oily finger to the rival Doohan/ Honda-dominated 500cc grand prix circus in the process - World Superbikes may experience mixed emotions at Donington this weekend.

For should Carl Fogarty and his Ducati team-mate Troy Corser romp away with all the prizes at the British round tomorrow the frenzied acclaim of Fogarty's adoring local support will be in stark contrast to faces as scarlet as the pair's Italian motorcycles among the series' officials.

Quite simply, the Dukes are just too quick this year and the also-rans are complaining like crazy. Now there is speculation that weight may be added to the V-twin bikes that can be rated up to 1,000cc compared with the heavier four-cylinder bikes - invariably Japanese-made - which have a 750cc ceiling.

A formula that has worked well in previous seasons (given that four-cylinder engines make more power than twins of the same capacity) is now under strain and the subject of hastily convened meetings by WSB organisers in Japan.

Fogarty himself has fuelled the debate by claiming that his victories in the previous rounds were "too easy". The three-times world champion from Blackburn is proving almost insuperable on a machine that has been set up like his 1995-title winning bike. Combine a circuit that suits the high corner speed of the Italian mounts with an atmosphere emotionally charged by a loud and vocal following and the prospects of the Hondas, Suzukis and Yamahas of Fogarty's rivals making an impression appear slim.

Understandably Fogarty's boss and one of WSB's pioneers, Davide Tardozzi, is opposed to changing the rules. "All we have done is found what works well for us, and put two great riders on the bikes."