Garry McCoy has become the latest GP veteran to be forced out of the premier-class, with the news that the 'Slide King' will replace Regis Laconi in the NCR Ducati team in the 2004 World Superbike championship.
McCoy quit Kawasaki at the end of a demoralising 2003 season, in which the former GP winner was rarely able to show his talent – citing frustration at a lack of development as convincing him to leave in search of a more competitive ride.
However, with the likes of Neil Hodgson, Ruben Xaus, Kurtis Roberts, Shane Byrne and Alex Hofmann
moving to MotoGP
for 2004, Garry was left without a competitive offer. A return to WCM looked like the 31-year-old's only realistic chance of remaining in the class, but that wouldn't have given the #8 the level of equipment he – and others – felt he deserved.
Thus the former Speedway rider was forced to consider Superbike racing – in either the World, British or AMA championships – and will now provide WSBK
with a much needed big name for the 2004 season, following the departure of Hodgson and Xaus.
Importantly for Garry, the NCR ride will almost certainly allow him the chance to win races and perhaps even the title, with Laconi having taken regular podiums for the team in 2003 – on his way to fourth in the championship.
Fans' favourite McCoy made his GP debut as a wild-card in the 1992 125cc Australian Grand Prix - having only started road racing four months previously - and made his full time world championship debut the following year. made his GP debut as a wild-card in the 1992 125cc Australian Grand Prix - having only started road racing four months previously - and made his full time world championship debut the following year.
'Gaz' stayed in the eighth-litre class until 1997, taking victory in the 1995 Malaysian GP, and finished seventh in the series standings in his final year before jumping to the then 500cc class (in 1998) to ride a Honda V-Twin, in what would be an injury struck season.
McCoy then moved to the Red Bull Yamaha team in 1999, taking his first premier-class podium at Valencia, but it would be the 2000 season which would prove most memorable.
With dominating countryman Mick Doohan having retired due to injury, the class was thrown open and although Kenny Roberts
Jr would win the world crown - chased all the way by a certain Valentino Rossi
- McCoy also starred, winning three races and taking a further three podiums to finish the year fifth overall.