Carl Fogarty (Castrol Honda) – the reigning world champion had switched from the Ducati to the Honda factory team in the 1996 season, whereupon he had a lot of trouble at the beginning of the season to build on his dominance of the previous year. On the contrary, he was defeated by his team-mate Aaron Slight 9 times in the first 12 of 24 races in the internal stable duel (© WorldSBK).

The second half of the WorldSBK season 1996

After the first half of the season, it went to the second English round in the Superbike World Championship. The first 4 in the World Cup intermediate ranking were still within 47 points and Colin Edwards (Yamaha), Pierfrancesco Chili (Ducati) and Simon Crafar (Kawasaki) still had a chance for the title at this point. The world championship leader was just ahead of the Kiwi Slight (Castrol Honda) the Australian Corser on the private Power Horse Ducati. Defending champion and Englishman Fogarty was third.

The 7th round of the WorldSBK at Brands Hatch

The reigning world champion from the previous year had fond memories of Brands Hatch, as Foggy recorded a one-two victory on his home track in 1995. But it should be a black weekend for the local hero in a season in which, despite two victories up to then, little came together for him. In the first race, Pierfrancesco “Frankie” Chili immediately took the lead after the start. John Kocinski initially tried to snatch the top off his Ducati brand colleague. But then he was even conceded by Kawasaki Anthony Gobert, who in turn appeared a short time later as the leader at the start-finish. Behind them there was a battle for third place between Kocinski, Fogarty and Colin Edwards on the best Yamaha.

The program for the second English round of the 1996 World Cup at Brands Hatch, officially known as the European round.

The hard fight for victory
A short time later, Chili was back at the top and World Championship leader Troy Corser caught up with the chasing group. Gobert did not give in and shortly thereafter passed the Italian again. But in the end the Australian had no chance against the unleashed Chili and had to admit defeat by 1.787 seconds. On the third Kocinski he was only a tenth ahead. Fourth place went to Edwards ahead of Foggy and his Castrol Honda team-mate Aaron Slight. John Reynolds (Suzuki) finished seventh ahead of Simon Crafar (Kawasaki) and Wataru Yoshikawa (Yamaha). Corser, on the other hand, was eliminated with engine failure 4 laps to go.

Pierfrancesco “Frankie” Chili (Team Gattolone Ducati) – the 3rd victory of the swimming pool attendant from Rimini, who should develop into a crowd favorite early on, especially in his native Italy. It was only at the beginning of one of the longest careers in the Supberbike World Championship (© WorldSBK).

The tumultuous second race at Brands Hatch
Unlucky Troy Corser was charged accordingly after his involuntary retirement in the first run and in the first corner he pushed past Chili, who had again started well. While the young Australian was pulling away from the front, a three-way battle for 2nd place began behind him between Chili, Gobert and Edwards and Fogarty had advanced to 5th place on Neil Hodgson. From now on, however, a real series of crashes began. John Kocinski was the first to get it on the third lap, two laps later it was Kawasaki driver Simon Crafar’s turn. A little later, Neil Hodgson flew off and in the 10th lap Jamie Whitham punched his Yamaha into the grass. On lap 15 it was Foggy who slipped on his Honda. Corser won over Chili, Edwards, Gobert and Slight on the best Honda. Wataru Yoshikawa (Yamaha), Paolo Casoli (Ducati) and John Reynolds followed as the best Suzuki rider again.

Troy Corser (Power Horse Ducati) – the Australian privateer driver defended his championship lead by winning the second race despite having failed in the first run because his closest pursuers also benefited too little from it (© Öhlins).

World Championship round 8 in Sentul

In Indonesia, the subtropical conditions were very different from the previous races in Europe and California. Since 1990, the Superbike World Championship has been a guest in neighboring Malaysia, which is also influenced by Muslims, before the route south of the Indonesian capital Jakarta was used in 1994. Troy Corser arrived as world championship leader eight points ahead of Aaron Slight, while Carl Fogarty was third, 48 points behind the leader. At the start of the first run there was some irritation regarding the start signal, but after a brief twitch from most of the drivers, the race started fairly normally. Ducati factory rider John Kocinski took the lead right from the start, followed by Chili, Slight and Foggy. After a few laps, the Kiwi fought his way past the Italian who was in second place.

Troy Corser (Power Horse Ducati) – For the world championship leader from Down Under, things didn’t go according to plan in the first race in Malaysia (© WorldSBK).

Little John escapes his opponents
In the 9th lap, Neil Hodgson flew off with his Ducati, while nothing at the top had changed until then. From the middle of the race onwards, the US-American who was in the lead was able to easily pull away from his opponents. There were a few changes of position in the chasing group when Chili first passed Slight again and then Fogarty conceded his team-mate. A little later, the Englishman also passed the Italian, which ultimately took him second behind Kocinski and Chili ultimately lost his podium to Slight. Corser was only sixth behind Edwards. Neil Hodgson had retired from the race with a fall and Anthony Gobert had not started because of an injury.

The Sentul pit facility was quite impressive, especially for the time, and can still keep up with numerous current routes in the MotoGP and WorldSBK calendar.

The second run of Sentul with the change in leadership
After his podium place, Slight was already within 2 points of Corser, who was leading in the intermediate ranking. It was again Kocinski who was in the lead after the start, but Troy Corser managed to get past him on the first lap. The two were able to easily set themselves apart from their pursuers by the third round. Behind it was a group of four with Chili, Edwards, Slight and Fogarty. In the 6th lap, the American forced his way past the Australian who had been in the lead up until then, who ran out of road in the 1st corner after the start-finish. After a wild ride, Corser had to line up well behind the chasing group. Shortly thereafter, Pierfrancesco Chili flew off and Foggy passed Slight and Edwards. But the Kiwi also overtook the Yamaha rider and then caught up with the reigning world champion all the way to the finish. With second place behind Kocinski, Aaron Slight took over the championship lead because Corser couldn’t get past P5.

John Kocinski (Ducati Corse) – the double winner of the Indonesian World Championship round drew level with Troy Corser with 5 wins in Asia and was still in the running in the fight for the world championship title (© WorldSBK).
Rob Phillis (Kawasaki) – The Australian achieved the best result of the season with 13th place in Indonesia in his fourth participation this year. The man from Down Under was twice World Cup third (1991 and 1992), as well as World Cup fourth in 1990. He had already participated in the Superbike World Championship since 1988 and was the best Kawasaki rider (© WorldSBK).

The return to Japan with World Championship round 9

For the ninth time in a row, the WorldSBK made a guest appearance in Sugo since its first season in 1988. Only the track in Japan, along with Donington Park and the Hockenheimring, remained in the calendar. The first race turned out to be a real surprise because not a single one of the regular international drivers at the Superbike World Championship was on the podium afterwards. It was not a fall orgy that was to blame, but the strong local pilots. First and foremost a Japanese named Yuichi Takeda (Honda), who is still largely unknown in the rest of the world, who won the first run in front of Noriyuki Haga on a Yamaha, which was also (at least 1996) rather blank slate. He was followed by Wataru Yoshikawa, while Colin Edwards as his colleague in the Yamaha factory team and Australian Rob Phillis (Kawasaki) had not started because of an injury.

Troy Corser only followed in fourth place ahead of Ducati brand colleague John Kocinski and Aaron Slight on the Castrol Honda. Behind the Japanese Norihiko Fujiwara (Yamaha) it was only eighth for Carl Fogarty. The two Japanese Akiro Ryo and Shinya Takeishi (both on Kawasaki) completed the top ten and Pierfrancesco Chili had to retire in the first round. Neil Hodgson (Ducati) made it into the points with P13 ahead of his English compatriot John Reynolds (Suzuki). However, the Australian Kirk McCarthy (P17, Suzuki) and the US American Mike Hale (P20, Ducati) did not succeed in this because of the many strong local drivers.

On Sugo’s program booklet, GP pilots were also shown with their machines, which must have seemed a bit confusing to the European observer.

The second race of Sugo
Once again, the top stars from abroad had to fight hard to keep up with the local heroes. Paolo Casoli (Ducati) was eliminated due to a fall on the first lap. At the top there was a tough fight between Takuma Aoki and John Kocinski in the course of the race, in which the Japanese Honda driver was just ahead. He was followed by Noriyuki Haga, Aaron Slight and Foggy, but the Japanese was later to be disqualified due to an illegal carburetor. Thus, 5th place went to Norihiko Fujiwara as the best Yamaha rider ahead of the two Kawasakis of his compatriots Ryo and Takeishi. Corser came in ninth, Simon Crafar in eleventh, John Reynolds (P12) and Neil Hodgson in 14th, as other foreigners, made it into the points.

Takuma Aoki (Honda) made a name for himself in the motorcycle world championship before the Japanese suffered paraplegia in an accident in 1998 (© WorldSBK).

The 10th round in the “Cathedral of Speed”

The races in the Netherlands should bring Carl Fogarty’s return to the top of the podium. After two podium placements in Sentul, ranks 8 and 4 in Sugo were another disappointment for the reigning world champion. Before the third to last lap of the Superbike World Championship in 1996, his Castrol Honda team-mate Aaron Slight was still in the lead in the intermediate standings. But in addition to Troy Corser, 13 points behind, John Kocinski (29) and Foggy (45) could still hope for the title. After all, there were still 150 points to be allocated at this point.

Assen WorldSBK 2018 photographed by us in April – in postcard weather it was still one of the most exciting and beautiful races on the calendar 22 years later, and we visited all of them with only a few exceptions.

Assen’s first race
In the first race, Carl Fogarty took the lead right from the start on his Honda, followed by the two Ducatis from Pierfrancesco Chili and Troy Corser. After the first lap, the three of them were almost 100 m ahead of their closest pursuers, with Aaron Slight on P5. The New Zealander fought his way up to fourth place in the second lap and shortly afterwards Chili took the lead. But Foggy grabbed the Italian again a little later and John Kocinscki stalked the leading group from behind, he had conceded Slight shortly before. When trying to get past Corser in the chicane before the start-finish, the US boy got on the grass and lost a place, which he regained shortly afterwards. A tough fight for 3rd place between the 3 fighting cocks then developed. In the end, Fogarty won ahead of Chili, Slight, Corser and Kocinski. Behind them Jamie Whitham on the best Yamaha in front of Neil Hodgson (Ducati), Simon Crafar (Kawasaki), Christer Lindholm (Ducati) and Wataru Yoshikawa (Yamaha), whose team-mate Colin Edwards was still injured.

Carl Fogarty (Castrol Honda) – the winner of Assen in 1996 with the “Union Jack” in his left hand, the Englishman was finally able to cheer again (© WorldSBK).

The second run of Assen
After the start, Neil Hodgson took the lead on his Ducati from Fogarty. But after three laps the reigning world champion was already leading ahead of Chili and Hodgson, who had already been kept company by Jamie Whitham, Troy Corser, Aaron Slight and John Kocinski. Whitham missed a turn shortly thereafter and fell far back. In the fourth lap, Corser was already in third place and was in pursuit of the two leaders. Shortly afterwards he also had Kocinski on his neck, while Slight and Hodgson were already clearly behind. After 9 laps Foggy was leading in front of Corser and Kocinski, while Chili had fallen behind. A tough fight for the top broke out, in which in the end the English were ahead for the tiny amount of 0.056. Kocinski was beaten by the second-placed Australian by 1.4 hundredths and behind, Chili only crossed the finish line on the third-best Ducati. Slight took P5 ahead of Hodgson, Yoshikawa, Crafar, McCarthy and the Austrian Meklau on Ducati.

Left winner Carl Fogarty (Castrol Honda) and front right Troy Corser (Power Horse Ducati) at the lively victory celebration in front of the main grandstand in Assen (© WorldSBK).

Penultimate round of the World Championship in Albacete

The first 4 drivers in the World Championship were now even closer together thanks to Fogarty’s double victory in Assen. With 310 points, Aaron Slight was still in front of Corser (303), Fogarty (288) and Kocinski (281). After a break of almost a month, we continued in Spain, the route from Albacete is about 2 hours by car southwest of Valencia. In the previous year, Foggy took the overall victory with a win and second place, just ahead of Slight with winning race 1 and third place in the second race. But this season the two should eat harder bread, this time the grapes hung significantly higher.

In the first run, Andreas Meklau, the Power Horse Ducati team mate of Troy Corser, eliminated himself in the warm-up lap already. The Austrian then sprinted towards his pits, but it was not surprising for him and with 17th place he should also remain without points in the second race. After the start, John Kocinski took the lead, followed by Troy Corser and Carl Fogarty. Shortly afterwards, the Australian took the lead and began to clearly stand out from his pursuers. After 5 laps, Chili grabbed Foggy, who had been on P3 until then, and Kocinski was still second. Three rounds later, Colin Edwards also passed the reigning world champion. On the 16th lap, the Yamaha works rider also overtook his compatriot Kocinski.

With twelve laps to go, Pierfrancesco Chili flew violently into the gravel with his Ducati and then hobbled out of the fall zone. He was supposed to compete in the second race as well, but retired after 2 laps with an electrical fault. The detour was just as much a zero for the Italian as it was for his brand colleague Meklau. Victory went to Troy Corser, 6.5 seconds ahead of Colin Edwards. Third was Kocinski, ahead of Kawasaki riders Simon Crafar and Carl Fogarty. Behind Yoshikawa, Reynolds and Hodgson, World Championship leader Aaron Slight was only ninth ahead of Mike Hale on Ducati. With that, the New Zealander lost the lead in the intermediate ranking to the Australian.

Pierfrancesco Chili (Ducati) iin front of Carl Fogarty (Honda) and Troy Corser (Ducati) – For the two leading players in the picture, things went anything but as desired in Spain, although the fight for the title was now only a matter for the Englishman (© WorldSBK).

The second race of Albacete
After the start, Troy Corser took the lead again and distanced his opponents within a few laps. John Kocinski became the first pursuer, and Colin Edwards worked his way up to third. Behind him, the two Castrol Honda riders Fogarty and Slight fought for fourth place together with Simon Crafar (Kawasaki) and Wataru Yoshikawa (Yamaha). The victory again went to Corser ahead of the two Americans Kocinski and Edwards. Simon Crafar crossed the finish line in fourth place on the best Kawasaki, followed by the Japanese Yamaha rider Yoshikawa. Aaron Slight was only sixth ahead of his Honda team-mate Fogarty, Neil Hodgson (Ducati), John Reynolds (Suzuki) and the German Jochen Schmid.

Troy Corser (Power Horse Ducati) – after his World Cup leadership at half-time of the season, he had regained it with his one-two in Albacete. For the season finale in his home country, he traveled with a comfortable advantage of 26 points over Aaron Slight. Kocinski and defending champion Fogarty only had theoretical chances and had to hope that Corser would retire in the first race at Phillip Island, otherwise things would be over for both of them (© WorldSBK).

Two interesting faces at the Spanish Races
With Pere Riba (Honda) and Gregorio Lavilla (Yamaha), two interesting local faces appeared internationally on the penultimate round of Albacete. The former would later become much better known as the crew chief of record world champion Jonathan Rea than in his first career as a racing driver. Riba retired after 5 laps in the first race and was eighteenth in the second. Lavilla got his first championship points in the first run with 11th place and in the second with P12. The Spaniard later became the manager responsible for the near-series World Championship at Dorna, the rights holder for WorldSBK. In the 2005 season he should at least be fifth in the World Championship on Suzuki.

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki, left) – the record world champion and possibly best WorldSBK driver of all time, together with his long-time crew chief and ex-racing driver Pere Riba (© WorldSBK).

Das Saisonfinale in Phillip Island

In the meantime, the racetrack in Australia has become an integral part of the WorldSBK calendar. Later, however, the time should usually be set at the beginning of the season, because the weather conditions are usually more favorable in spring than in autumn. In his home country, it was a special experience for Troy Corser to be able to compete as a double winner and World Cup favorite. His lead was comfortable enough that a good result in the first race would be enough to win the title early. In principle, it was enough for him to finish ahead of his toughest rival Aaron Slight to be the world champion.

For 5 Australian dollars, you got the 1996 program booklet with runner-up world champion and local hero Troy Corser on the front page.
Twenty-four years later photographed by us in Cowes on the opposite side of the island while visiting Australia. The scenery was beautiful and the food expensive and awful, but the races made up for it.

The decisive first race at Phillip Island
Even before the start, it was clear to Aaron Slight that he had to put everything on one card in order to keep the last small chance of the title. Right next to Troy Corser, the Kiwi started the race well, but his Australian rival took the lead in the first corner ahead of Colin Edwards and him. The American returned from the first lap as the front-runner and behind him were Corser, Slight and Anthony Gobert on the best Kawasaki. In the second round, the latter passed the Honda driver, who was under even more pressure because he had to cross the finish line before Corser. A short time later, Gobert also passed Corser in second place, which meant that the two opponents were directly behind each other in the fight for the title.

Phillip Island WorldSBK Season start on February 29, 2020, with the sea coast in the background. 24 years before that, this site hosted the dramatic World Superbike World Championship finals with an Australian and a Kiwi as the main characters. A few days after this picture was taken, the corona pandemic began to paralyze racing operations for months.

The moment of decision
In the 5th lap the Australian braked in the Honda Corner and Slight was able to slip through on the inside. A little later, the Castrol Honda driver managed to overtake Anthony Gobert again. But a few turns later the Kawasaki rider passed him again. In the 7th deal, the New Zealander was able to get past the Australian again, whose compatriot Corser held back for the time being. Three laps later Gobert was again on P2, but Slight passed him again at the start-finish. The two gamecocks were already within half a second behind the leading Edwards when what happened which the directors first missed. After Gobert slipped past the Kawasaki pilot again, he slipped away in the next left turn.

Anthony Gobert (Kawasaki) in front of Colin Edwards (Yamaha) – the battle for victory in the first race in Australia went to the local hero, much to the delight of the numerous visitors (© WorldSBK).

The decision had been made – the world champion was certain
In a split second, the World Cup was decided in favor of the local hero. Troy Corser was able to let the two drivers in front of him go and contented himself with third place behind Gobert and Edwards in the first race. The only 24-year-old from Wollongong in South Wales, south of Sydney, crowned himself the first Australian WSBK world champion as a private driver. He was to remain in the near-series World Cup for many years to come and compete on various different makes in the fight for another title.

Troy Corser (Power Horse Ducati) would not take his hat off in the Superbike World Championship for many years and the Australian became one of the most formative figures in the series (© WorldSBK).

The second run of Phillip Island
Again this time Anthony Gobert was the winner, but this time not wafer-thinly ahead of Edwards, but 0.109 seconds ahead of the new runner-up world champion Aaron Slight. This time Colin Edwards crossed the finish line in third place, just over 10 seconds behind. The American Mike Hale (Ducati) finished his season gold with fourth place ahead of John Kocinski and Carl Fogarty. The latter finished only fourth in the World Championship and should ruefully return to Ducati, while Kocinski moved to Castrol Honda in his place for the 1997 season. The US-American finished third before Foggy. Despite his failure, Troy Corser was able to pop the corks 6 laps before the end.

Troy Corser (Power Horse Ducati) – After his world championship title, the Australian tried his hand at the motorcycle world championship, but had little success in the 500cc class and returned to the Superbike world championship a year later (© WorldSBK).

Final result of the 1996 drivers’ championship

Manufacturers World Championship 1996

The evaluation with the placements (not the World Cup points), which counted for the ranking of the Manufacturers World Championship. Ducati won the championship again with its V2 engines, which were allowed to have a displacement of up to 1000 cm³. The four-cylinder bikes were limited to 750 cc at that time. Suzuki was not supposed to enter the factory until a later date.

The 1st half of the 1996 season:

The 1997 season: coming soon..