arl Fogarty is one of the most famous names in motorcycle racing and a legend among the fans that followed his World Superbike career. But when he decided to ride across New Zealand there was only one choice of bike to use - BMW's all-conquering GS.
The name of Carl Fogarty stands out as one of the most successful motorcycle racers of modern times. His four World Superbike Championships and 59 race victories, along with TT wins and F1 titles are testament to the man's ability to race a motorcycle faster and with more controlled aggression than anyone else. Who knows what he might have achieved had it not been for the freak crash and career-ending shoulder injury he sustained while riding a works Ducati at Philip Island in Australia in 2000.
When it came to riding across New Zealand however, he turned to BMW to supply him with a suitable bike. A production company approached him and his wife Michaela about doing a trip to New Zealand and turning it into a TV series, DVD, to be released in October.
"I've been offered loads of stuff over the years since I retired from racing," said Carl. "I've been asked to retrace Che Guevara's steps and ride along Route 66 but when the production company mentioned New Zealand - and that it would involve both of us - I was very interested."
New Zealand is a country that has always appealed to Carl so they jumped at the chance to ride across both islands. Obviously one of the first questions was what bikes they would be taking on the journey. "I was quite happy when they said we could ride BMWs, and they were definitely the best bikes for the trip," confirmed Carl.
While Carl has been around bikes since he was a child (his dad George was a racer) Michaela had hardly ridden since passing her test seven years ago, so riding across New Zealand was going to be a big challenge. "I just wanted a bike that was easy to ride and comfortable," she explained. "The F650 GS definitely had both of those qualities in abundance. I really loved the bike."
The R1200 GS that Carl was riding turned out to be a pleasant surprise for the former factory rider who spent his career riding lightweight 210 hp race machinery capable of speeds up to 320 km/h. Prior to trying BMW's go-anywhere machine, he had expected it to be heavy (his factory race bikes only weighed approximately 160 kg) but what he rapidly found was the opposite. "Once we were on our way I found it to be a great bike. It handles well, has a strong, torquey engine and is really comfy. In fact, for what we were doing they were probably the best bikes we could have had."
The pair covered on average up to 300 km each day and never had a problem. In between all this riding they still found time to enjoy some of New Zealand's challenges, including extreme sports, learning to surf, ski diving and camping under the stars. Despite having visited and holidayed in many countries, New Zealand certainly made a great impression on Carl: "We live in a small country [the UK] with 60 million people and New Zealand is the same size but with only about four million people and their roads are perfect for biking because they are so quiet. By the end of the trip we were really sad to see the BMWs go."
So, while Carl may have made his name on exotic Italian race machinery, the Fogartys have quite obviously now seen the light. So if you see someone with a 'Foggy' replica helmet riding a BMW give him a wave. You never know, it might actually be the great man himself.