In this week’s MCN (Wednesday, June 27, 2007)our road testers ride a pair of stunning retro WSB homologation motorcycles – the 916SPS and ZXR750R from 1994.
The bikes are the road going versions of the factory bikes campaigned by Scott Russell and Carl Fogarty in one of the most memorable seasons of World Superbikes ever.
The two riders were at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend, so our MCN caught up with the old rivals to find out in their own words what the race bikes were like when they competed on them back in 1994.
Scott Russell: “I don’t think the Kawasaki was ever the best bike out there – it did nothing great, but everything good. The Ducati had more torque out of bends, and it was difficult to keep up with Carl, but it made me a better rider trying to catch up with him! I think the Kawasaki was easier to ride than the Ducati.”
Carl Fogarty: ‘The Ducati’s main problem was reliability in 1994. It was a brand new bike, and for the first few months it was a bit nervous ands twitchy, and I had trouble getting the power down. I kept moaning I wanted by old 888 back because I could go faster on it.”
Scott Russell: “The brakes were really good – it had carbon Nissins before they outlawed them, I always thought they were the best brakes you could have.
“They helped make the bike turn easier. I’d lose out coming off the corner, but gain on the brakes and into the corner. The ZXR always seemed able to change direction faster.”
Carl Fogarty: “When we lengthened the bike, I could more corner speed than Scott. The first race weekend we got the bike sorted was Austria, and I went out and won both races.
“Top speed was similar – though at the fastest tracks Scott had the edge. I had the advantage coming out of corners though – especially second gear corners.”
Scott Russell: “Carl always used to hang right off the bike, and I wondered ‘why’s he doing that?’ I rode a Ducati later in my career, and now I understand that’s the way to ride that bike. I used to think ‘what could I have done with that bike?’, but now I know it’s not the bike for me.
“I couldn’t get my head around using the torque instead of revving the bike hard. Carl and Troy (Bayliss) rode that bike as good as anybody could – it’s a totally different style on the bike. Carl was such a little guy he probably had to hang right off to get it to turn.”
Carl Fogarty: “I only needed a bit more top speed. You always think the other guy’s bike is better, but it probably wasn’t. It was just reliability was a big problem. The only race James (Whitham) ever won was when my bike broke down when I was seven or eight seconds in the lead.”