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Sport on the Internet

CARL FOGARTY clinched a record fourth World Superbike title in the penultimate round of the season at Hockenheim yesterday. It was a foregone conclusion according to some of the sites covering the sport on the Web, even those that were not proposing he be knighted for services to motorcycling.

The Superbikes official site, which seems to be changing its Internet service provider, may be "Foggy"-friendly, but is not well disposed to Internet Explorer 5. If you use it to explore the "enhanced" version of the site, expect some system glitches - Netscape 4 is recommended. The site also recommends adjusting your display to 800x600. Annoying strictures which, with a frame-based design that forces unnecessary use of scroll bars even on large screen set-ups, are enough to send many surfers elsewhere.

From the home page, it is worth opting for the "operative" version of the site instead - it is quicker and has all the content. It is a rewarding site, comprehensive information about races, riders and teams added to real-time race results.

WorldSuperbikes.com is well designed, looks slick and handles like a well set-up Ducati ridden by Fogarty. Navigation is straightforward courtesy of a sidebar that features informative and unobtrusive Javascript rollover graphic effects. The site is divided into 12 sections ranging from news to chat, via TV listings and detailed statistics.

Analysis is a strength, whether on race by race accounts or on season overviews and how complete Fogarty's domination has been. The on-site features are varied and authoritative, ranging from interviews with riders and race reviews to pieces about the politics of the sport, plus technical articles about the science used to "create a miniature tornado inside the heart of the Superbike".

The Carl Fogarty official site, complete with audio background of a bike at full revs concentrates on "Foggy Promotions", the family-run business selling memorabilia, prints, clothing. Those uninterested in merchandise will probably head straight for the information section, where race coverage and standings are posted.

Providing fan-based input are a host of sites. One of the most professional looking is the unambiguously titled Carl Fogarty - Website for a British Legend. It has the stats and info, but it also has evangelical zeal, arguing the case for raising the profile of motorcycle racing in the UK in general and Fogarty's in particular.

The tone is upbeat. The noticeboard for fans to post messages has a lively mix of hero-worship and discussion. In the news, views and gossip section there is serious debate about Fogarty's chances of winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. Summing it up is the legend on the photo gallery, containing 64 action shots. "The pics of the true king of England," it says. Site Addresses The Superbike World Championship Official Site http://www.superbike.it/ or WorldSuperbikes.com http://www.worldsuperbikes.com/ The Carl Fogarty Official Website http://www.carlfogarty.co.uk/ Carl Fogarty Website for a British Legend http://carl.fogarty.findhere.com/