The most exciting part of watching the end of a motorcycle race is when the top three racers fight to cross the finish line first. This part is the most thrilling part and it is very certain that everyone, including the racers, hold their breath until it is clear who the winner is.
When three racers are reaching the last corner at close distance, each of them knows that anyone can be a winner. It is only a matter of who get the holeshot first. “He who dares wins.” is the adagium of that situation. In such situation, the boldest racer, one who seizes a gap, will wound the throttle wide open and drag his bike pass the checkered flag first. This is the greatest moment in a motorcycle race and it is usually called as split-second victory, because the time margin of the winner and the other racers were just mili-seconds behind.
Some of the most amazing split-second win happened in World Superbike (WSBK) competition. The regulations that require every team uses road bike with limited modifications make split-second victory occurs regularly every season. To me, the greatest split-second win were created awesomely by my favorite racer of all time: Carl Fogarty. Here’s the list:
Fogarty-Kocinski (Assen 1996)
Fogarty rode for Honda Castrol team in 1996 and it was a difficult time for him. This was one race that he had to win if he wanted to keep his 1994 world title. Before race began, Carl was predicted to be able to win it easily because he was a regular winner since 1993. The problem was he had two other racers who fought just as hard as him-John Kocinski and Troy Corser. The whole race was a constant fight of three racers and it was decided at the chicane, before the finish line. Fogarty was leading at first, but Kocinski dived first to the right corner, getting the inside line to give him advantage to come out first, while Corser was right behind Carl, waiting to take advantage too. However, Carl, surprised a little, fixed his mistake by gassing first and stamped his bike first to the right. This purely instinctive move blocked Kocinski, who were accelerating hard, thereby forcing him to hold down his throttle. It appeared as if Carl knew that his RC 45 had immense power to catapult him out from the chicane. Since Kocinski had to slow down a bit, Corser got advantage by dragging behind Carl to settle for second place. It was a fantastic split-second win in the history of motorbike race.
Fogarty-Chilli (Assen 1997)
Another race in Assen and this time, it was dramatic. Chilli won the first race and Foggy did not want the same thing happen again in the second race. So, he and Chilli had a close fight through out the whole race and, again, the winner was decided in the last lap, nearing the last chicane. Closing in, Chilli was leading into the last corner but Foggy outbreaked him from the inside and led into the chicane first. The maneuver, which should not have been a big surprised, forced Chilli to break hard, radically decreasing his speed. Somehow, Chilli, seemingly lost his strong composure, didn’t control his throttle and suddenly lost traction with his front end. Chilli had to end his race in a sand trap. Foggy just accelerate to cross the finish line.
Yet, there was a drama following. Chilli accused Foggy of holding him in the last lap, pushing him to break harder and lost the grip of his front tyre. In reality, Chilli fell without his bike even touched Foggy’s.
Fogarty-Edwards (Monza 1998)
Foggy had almost lost this race, if it had not been for the electronic transponder in race bikes. There were three potential racers to win the race: Foggy, Edwards, Chilli; and they were on different bikes. Foggy (Ducati) led the last lap while Edwards (Honda) and Chilli (Suzuki) were tailing close. Closing the first corner, Slight overtook Foggy by braking hard, entering the corner first. Foggy lost the lead and had to stay behind for several kms. At Ascari corner, Foggy made a mistake, running over a kerb, which pushed him to third place and put Chilli in second. It looked as if Foggy had to end the race as third winner. But Foggy quickly recovered and soon passed Chilli in a straight leading to Parabolica turn. At Parabolica, it looked as if Edwards would have won the race since he was well ahead and could have just dragged to the finish line. However, the inner lion in Foggy’s heart was still roaring loud. Refusing to give up, when their bikes were about to get out from Parabolica, Carl immediately wound his throttle wide open, accelerating hard, and went out wider, trying to pass Colin from the impossible outside line.
Colin did not try to block Carl since he thought his inside line was enough to give him victory. What Colin did not know was that Carly risked coming out wider because he knew that he could use the old track to give his tires enough grip, hence allowing him to compete in crossing the finish line first. So, the two riders wound their throttles wide open at the same time and speeded as hard as possible to cross the checkered flag first. In the video, it looked as if they crossed the line together. At first, the verdict stated that Colin won the race. However, photo finish and electronic transponder recorder proved that Carl’s bike, Ducati 916, crossed the line first and Foggy was declared as winner of Monza. Italian fans went nuts but they enjoyed Carl’s victory in Monza.