NowMoto sits down with Superbike champion, Carl Fogarty – Exclusive Interview

Carl Fogarty, fresh from his first run up the Goodwood hill climb, sat down for an exclusive chat with NowMoto. He opened up about the beauties hiding in his garage, and the one rider he wished he could have battled against on track.

As a relatively young motorsport fan, I could be forgiven for assuming that a man who retired from racing in 2000 would no longer hold such a hero’s status. But this isn’t any racer. This is Carl Fogarty.

It’s not until you are running through the pitlane Goodwood, herded by chaperones and swerving through fans, plenty of who are shouting “Foggy!” to try and catch the attention of the man in question, that you realise quite how important Carl Fogarty is to the racing world.

“It’s a great festival, to be honest,” Carl began our chat, lazed back in the gardens of the drivers area, enjoy the blazing sunshine, “If you’re in to motorsport [there are] cars, bikes, everything!” It is hard to deny the spectacle that is Goodwood. Everywhere you look, there is another beasty machine to gaze upon.

And what a beast Foggy is riding this weekend! He is working alongside Triumph this weekend, testing their new Moto2 engine, which will debut in 2019. “I rode its bigger brother – the Speed Triple and the Speed Triple R which I rode this morning.” Foggy commented. “It will be interesting to see how it does feel – it sounds amazing and everyone’s looking forward to it [being used] next year. It’s a fantastic engine – a great power band and great characteristics of power and it sounds incredible.”

Compared to the two cylinder Honda engine that the Moto2 teams are using now, this three cylinder Triumph engine should provide a significant improvement to the racing on the track. “…and it will certainly make for a better sounding bike than what they’re running now.” Foggy gushed.

“The bit you’ve got to do, which is a bit boring for me because I’ve raced motorbikes, is wobble up someone’s driveway on a dusty drive, on someone else’s bike. It’s what the people want to see and you get to see us all here which is very rare for the bike guys and car guys to be in the same place – and the fans love it”

When I quizzed the ex-world champion about the lost magic of World Superbikes, his answer was simple. “[When] MotoGP was born and that stuck a big nail in the coffin of World Superbikes” he stated. His voice now seemed distinctly different, as if reminiscing about an old, long lost friend. “It’s a great championship and it means a lot to me.”

Foggy’s golden era of Superbikes won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Awesome on-track rivalries, to the wire championship battles and beasty machines wrote the era firmly in to the history books.

But the toughest guy he ever raced against? “That’s really a hard question – there were so many guys I raced against.” was his initial response. An unsurprising response when you look back at his 12 year WSBK career. “Probably some of the American guys like Colin Edwards and John Kocinski were quite difficult – probably Kocinski if I had to pick one. He was a very talented guy.”

“I think superbikes will always struggle to get back to the dizzy heights it reached because of MotoGP being the biggest four-stroke championship in the world. But when I raced in it [world superbikes], it was the biggest four-stroke championship in the world. Then in 2003, MotoGP was born and that stuck a big nail in the coffin of World Superbikes and it’s never really recovered from that date, to be honest. It’s a great championship and it means a lot to me.”

At this point, I decided to turn the conversation towards today’s WSBK grid, and namely Jonathan Rea, who is on the edge of securing his fourth title to match Foggy’s record. “I think Jonathan is one of those kind of riders that would have run up front in any era of Superbikes or any racing. I have a lot of time for him, he’s a great rider and I couldn’t think of anyone better or that I’d be happier to lose my records to. I’ve held them for about 25 years now – I think that’s long enough anyway!”

I couldn’t let the topic pass without asking that one fateful question – “Oh yeah, I’d beat him! Of course I would! I have to say that!”

It seems that Foggy’s garage at home is bursting at the seams. I had hardly finished the question before he began reeling off a, seemingly never-ending, list of machines. “I’ve got…at home I’ve got a Triumph Speed Triple, a Triumph Street Scrambler, a KTM Dirtbike, I’ve got a Sherco trials bike, a Honda Flat Track bike – so a few there! Oh, and the Ducati that I won the championship on in ’98, that’s in there as well.  Just a few!”

But his favourite? That was a question that stumped him! After some umm-ing and ahh-ing, Foggy finally made his decision. “I think my favourite bike of all time is probably the Ducati 916, but my favourite bike to ride on the road is probably the one I’ve got now, my Triumph Bonneville. It’s great to have on the road, I love it.”

If nothing else, our conversation with Foggy has left us incredibly excited to see what the Triumph engine can bring to Moto2 next year. The team at NowMoto would like to thank him and the team at Triumph for their time.

To read the full transcript of the interview, click here.

Feature Image Credit: Steven Andrews


Originally posted on 20th July, 2018 for NowMoto

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Billy Monger’s Incredible Recovery – Charli’s Motorsport Moment

2017 has been the year I began my career at Overtake Motorsport as their Formula E correspondent. And what a year of highs and lows the motorsport world has provided us with.

For me, the highest moment was Lucas DiGrassi taking the Formula E title in Montreal. The lowest moment was, undoubtedly, the passing of MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden, who has been a hero to me for many years.

But one moment, above all others, has shone brighter than all others and I believe it to be the most inspirational motorsport moment of the year.

 

 

On the 16th of April, the Formula 4 grid were racing at Donnington Park. The conditions were tricky, to say the least, with the young-guns battling slick tyres on a wet track. With 15 minutes left of the race, 17-year-old, Billy Monger was trying to charge past his nearest competitors when a stationary car, on the racing line, stopped him in his tracks.

All racing fans know the horrors that unfurled. Monger lost both his lower legs as a result of the impact. But the achievements of this young Brit, over the 8 months that followed, are the stuff of legends.

But who is Billy Monger? – or Billy the Whizz as he is affectionately known. Gatwick born and bred, Monger has been karting from an early age. After a successful Ginetta Junior career, Monger made the move to Formula 4 in 2016.

Monger spent just two testing sessions behind the wheel of the JHR Developments car before he managed to throw himself to just three tenths of a second behind the fastest time. Once his first F4 season began, Monger had secured three podium finishes in no time at all.

Billy was quickly making a name for himself in the world of single-seater racing and he had caught the attention of many bigger and better teams. This guy was on a path to incredible things.

 

And incredible things are certainly what Monger has achieved this year. It just hasn’t been following the path we all expected it to.

 

After spending a month in hospital, recovering from his injuries, Monger made his intentions for the future plainly clear. “I’ll be back racing as soon as I can. All the support just makes me more determined.” was the statement he made to the media.

And it only took Monger 11 weeks of recovery before he found himself behind the wheel again. Monger completed a testing session at Brands Hatch, in July 2017, with Team BRIT who specialise in getting disabled service men behind the wheel. This test gave Monger his first experience of driving a race car with steering wheel mounted controls.

 

Just days after receiving his prosthetic legs, Monger was able to take part in his charity walk at Brands Hatch, during the BTCC race weekend. He was joined by around 1,000 people as he walked 200 metres of the track, all in aid of the Air Ambulance, who played a key role in helping Billy in the aftermath of his accident.

Monger’s lasting achievement will be the changes to the FIA rulebook that he has enforced. Previously, no disabled driver was allowed to compete in any single seater racing championship. However, this is no longer the case thanks to Monger’s hard work and dedication to the cause.

This change in ruling has allowed other drivers, who also face an uncertain future within their sport, to fight with their fellow competitors once again.

 

So, what does the future hold for Monger? His intentions to race have been made very clear. But he has commented that “I’m not 100% committed to anything yet”. Monger explains that his team are “just looking at different options to see what’s best for me in the future. There’s a lot of work involved in what’s going on with my own rehabilitation, but that’s all going well, so hopefully we’ll be back out on track soon.”

Monger has expressed a wish to join Frederic Sausset in his target to reach the Le Man 24hr. Sausset is hoping to bring together a team of disabled racing drivers to compete in the world-renowned endurance race in the near future. Undoubtably, Billy would be a phenomenal addition to such a team.

 

 

Billy Monger has been a true inspiration to countless motorsport fans and future racing drivers everywhere, including myself. And yet, his outlook remains simply grounded and beautiful.

“People keep saying I’m the inspiration,” Monger explained, “but I think all these people coming together to support someone who has gone through an accident like this, they’re the true inspiration.”

 

Feature Image Credit: “Billy Monger’s first day back behind the wheel of a race car at Brands Hatch


Posted on 10th January 2018 for Overtake Motorsport

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Lee McKenzie: “You have to be prepared for anything in live TV”

Lee McKenzie has been a leading figure in the F1 paddock for many years now. In this exclusive interview for Overtake Motorsport, we get a sense of Lee’s role and her experiences in the paddock.

 

Lee’s journalistic career began at an early age, providing club rugby reports to her local newspaper, aged just 15. Shadowing her father, also a sporting journalist, Lee built up the knowledge and passion which placed her in the career she is in today. “I always have been involved in sport and Fleet Street journalism through my family. I always knew this was the plan, not on TV but writing initially which I still love.”

 

Most Overtake Motorsport readers will know Lee solely as a Formula 1 commentator, but her job has, and continues to, involves all manner of events.

“People see me as a Motorsport person but I started as a news journalist which is what everyone should do, no matter where you want to end up. I covered the Lockerbie Trial, general elections etc. A journalist needs to be experienced as that with an ability to see news lines, too many are simply fans. For the last few years I have missed F1 races to cover other sports. I love Wimbledon and rugby and they would be my favourites. Events like the Olympics, commonwealth games are incredible events too.”

 

But as for her motorsport career, Lee plays a vital role within the Channel 4 presenting team, taking the role as pit lane reporter. “There is no such thing as an average day,” Lee told us when discussing her job. “Thursday is the day to get all the driver interviews done. Every Thursday afternoon is split into 10 minute blocks and all journalists get to speak to the drivers.” If the coverage is live, Lee will present all three practise sessions, before returning to the pitlane for drivers interviews during qualifying. “Sunday is by far the easiest day and takes care of its self!
When asked what, if anything, surprises Lee about her career, she simply replies by saying “you have to be prepared for anything in live TV!”

This lead me to question if this always Lee’s career aim, or did she fall into thanks to her family’s involvement? It would seem both are true! “I have been in the F1 paddock since I was in my early teens so I am very used to that environment. I also started as a journalist, writing for local newspapers when I was 15! I did go to uni but continued to work in newspapers during that whole experience.”

 

So I ended my interview the way I end them all, asking Lee which three Motorsport figures she would invite to a fantasy dinner party.

“Senna – I never met him but my Dad knew him and was at the funeral. I know the Senna family so would love to have met Ayrton.
Jim Clark – a humble man by all accounts and would love to have met him. So different to today’s drivers!
Seb – always great fun, intelligent and good company. If I have no chat with the others then I could chat to him although he would have plenty to talk about with those two!”

 

Lee will be back in action, alongside her Channel 4 comrades, when F1 returns from the summer break, in Spa-Francorchamps on the 27th of August.

Feature Image Credit: Lee Mckenzie’s Website


First published on 5th August 2017 for Overtake Motorsport.

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Nicki Shields: “We call ourselves the Formula E Family”

In an exclusive interview for Overtake Motorsport, Nicki chats about the future and innovations of Formula E, as well as her recent time at Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Nicki’s own twitter bio proclaims her to be a “car fanatic”, and this passion shone through as soon as our Motorsport chat began. Since it’s inaugural season, Nicki has been in the pit lane of every Formula E race, so who better to chat with regarding the effect this formula has had and where its future lies.

Since the first ever testing session at Donnington Park, where these all electric racecars took to the track for the first time, Nicki has been “splitting [herself] into three people at once- managing to do the Channel 5 show, the CNN show and the Formula E show” at every race weekend. So I began by asking her how the sport has evolved since it began.

 

We got to Beijing, in September 2014, and we had an incredible race with 20 cars on track, with a big finale when Nick Heifeld practically summersaulted across the track with Nico Prost. And all of a sudden, Formula E was in the headlines and everyone was talking about it. So yes, we started with a bang, shall we say!
And from then on, every race and every season [has] just massively built momentum. It really hasn’t sat still. And every time, a race is more smooth in terms of an organisation perspective, the tracks are better, the locations are getting better.

 

Formula E is still a very new motorsport championship, with many changes already agreed upon for future seasons. I asked Nicki how she would like to see the sport evolving, and her hopes were simple – “I want it to become a mainstream sport. At the moment it is very much still a niche.” Similarly to her own experiences, Nicki admits that this electric racing formula has “converted some pure petrol heads, because they just love racing”. She also agrees that the sport has attracted new fans to the racing world. These are the “more forward thinking, trail blazers who are interested in that electric power train. I think Formula E has done really well at engaging with younger fans through social media.”

One of the ways that Formula E is already moving forward will be seen in Season 5, as the car batteries will last for the entire race. This eliminates the need for a pit stop for the drivers to move to a second car. However, when I asked Nicki which one regulation she would alter, if she was in charge of the sport, she touched on this idea. “I think we should still maintain a pitstop, because it is fun and adds a bit of strategy into the mix. I think if we don’t have a pitstop then it takes out some of the tactics and some of the strategy and I enjoy having that.

 

Given the impact such a new formula, with the first three races alone drawing in 56 million TV viewers, I asked Nicki what other racing series could learn from Formula E.

Considering it is a FIA world championship, [Formula E] is a very friendly, open and supportive environment. Everyone is supporting each other. And that goes down from mechanics, across teams, to PR to broadcasters and drivers. Everyone gets one really well and supports each other. We call ourselves the Formula E family and it really does feel like that! We are all this travelling family and you can feel that in the pitlane.
I think maybe with some other championships you are pitted against each other more and it doesn’t have quite the same atmosphere. And obviously, if everyone that works there really enjoys it and really enjoys the atmosphere then that flows through to the fans and to everyone watching it.

This self proclaimed “car fanatic” had recently spent the weekend at Goodwood Festival of Speed, prior to our conversation. So I simply had to ask her what her highlights had been! She began by telling me about interviewing Niki Lauda as he was reunited with the Brabham, “fan” car. “Hearing of the tales of when he first drove that car and what it was like and how bonkers it was, was really nice to hear

She then went on to tell me about how Jackie Stewart “dissed [her] fashion sense”. Nicki explained how “he was wearing a racing suit from in period – those super cotton racing suits that weren’t really fire proof at all, but then he had these Nike Air’s on” which lead to many jokes and banter.

 

So I ended my interview the way I end them all, asking Nicki which three Motorsport figures she would invite to a fantasy dinner party.

Michael Schumacher – just because there’s so many unanswered questions that we would have the chance to ask him about.
Probably Ayerton Senna – again just because he’s an ultimate legend.
I’d either go for someone like Sir Stirling Moss because he’s a total legend and he’s hysterical […] or someone cheeky like Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen just to mix it up a little bit! That would be seriously fun!

 

You can watch Nicki in the pitlane when Formula E returns for season 4, in Hong Kong, on the 2nd and 3rst of December.

 

Feature Image Credit: FIA Formula E Media site. 


First published on 31st July, 2017 for Overtake Motorsport

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