Racing legend Carl Fogarty says that this year’s Isle of Man TT races is once again set to be a battle of the giants and that he will be very surprised to see anyone challenge the dominance of Ian Hutchison and Michael Dunlop at this month’s event.
Although best known for his 59 world superbike race wins and four world titles, Foggy is a bona fide TT legend, having won three TTs, including the 1990 Senior and Formula One races.
Fogarty also played his part in what is considered the greatest TT of all time, the 1992 Senior TT, when he and Steve Hislop smashed lap records and traded the lead in a six lap epic. Hislop took a historic win on the unfancied rotary engine Norton, while Fogarty set new a lap record of 123.61mph on a Yamaha OW01 – a record that would stand for seven years.
Speaking on the eve of this year’s festival, the now 51 year old spoke to Insidebikes and says that despite all of his successes on and off the track, nothing even came close to his successes at the world’s most challenging race.
He said: “I love the TT. It’s probably the closest race to me. I have so many special memories, not just of the TT but the Isle of Man in general. My holidays as a kid were at the Isle of Man. My dad raced the TT and we’d spend two weeks there, in and out of the arcades, and it’s always an emotional trip down memory lane for me.
“I always wanted to race the TT, always wanted to win the TT and I did that. Always wanted to be the fastest guy around there, and I achieved that too. To win a world superbike race and to set the fastest lap at the TT in the same year is never going to happen again. Guys who win the TT now wouldn’t be in the top 10 in British superbike now, never mind world superbike.”
Speaking of today’s heroes, straight talking Foggy says that the smart money will once again be Hutchinson and Dunlop, who carved up the major races between them in 2016.
He added: “The superbikes now are so fast and make so much horsepower that to hang on to one of them around there takes some doing. I respect them so much and with the TT coverage, these days they can become quite famous for doing just that one race, and rightly so.
“I can’t see anyone getting near Hutchy and Michael this year. I thought that James Hillier maybe could do in the last year or two, but he seems to have stagnated a bit. I can see Guy doing anything. He’s missed a year and wasn’t exactly winning before. It would be nice to see, but I just can’t see it unless others breakdown.
“I like Lee Johnson and hopefully he’ll do well. There’s a lot of talk about Josh Brookes, but I am unsure about his motivations for the TT. One minute he’s in world superbike, the next minute he’s in BSB, he misses the TT and then he goes back again. I don’t know where he is with that in his head, maybe it’s a money thing for the TT or maybe he’s actually because he wants to win the TT. I like Josh though and wish him all the best. Some of the short circuit guys are going to the TT because you can make good money and I’m not sure that’s the right reason.”
Of the racers balancing the TT with a campaign on the short circuits, Foggy believes that the popular Lincolnshire rider Peter Hickman has the most potential. The 30-year-old will be racing in his fourth TT in 2017 and joined an elite club of riders to have averaged more than 132mph around the iconic 37.73 mile circuit.
“Again, he’s gone well, really well, and this is a big year for him,” adds Fogarty. “He might just go the same way as James Hillier. You’ve got to take that extra step and risk to win and I’m not sure that the short circuit guys are willing to do that. We’ll see.”
Practice for the 2017 Isle of Man TT races takes place this week, with racing starting on Saturday (June 3). You can keep up to date with all the action by watching the nightly highlights show on ITV4.