Former four-times World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty believes that, within two years, new Suzuki grand prix rider Chris Vermeulen will be capable of beating reigning five-times MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi... if they are on equal machinery.
Speaking exclusively to Crash.net
, Carl began by stating that there was no mystery as to why some Superbike riders have failed to be successful in MotoGP - and that its clear to him what's needed to win.
"It should be fairly easy (to switch from Superbike to MotoGP) to be honest," said the 59-times WSBK race winner. "It depends when the riders go, whether it's the end of their career.
"When I hear people debate about Superbike riders being unable to win in MotoGP, I scratch my head and wonder what they're on about - when pretty much everyone who has won championships in MotoGP, except Rossi, has come from Superbikes.
"Rainey, Schwantz, Lawson, Doohan - they all used to race Superbikes - and Nicky Hayden was a Superbike rider, he's won a race this year. It depends on what age the Superbike riders are when they move, what team they go to and how much motivation and determination they have.
"I feel that sometime riders go from Superbike, even the ones that go at a young age, and they go to the wrong team or are on the wrong kind of bike - it destroys them and they win nothing.
"Unless you go to MotoGP with a top team, you ain't going to win. Riders like Hodgson, Byrne, Xaus - they go there on poor bikes, poor teams - second rate stuff - they're not going to win anything.
"Then you've got someone like Hayden, who is put there - on a number one team and a number one bike - given two or three years at it and he wins. It's there in black and white why he's won!
"It's easy to understand for me: You've got to go there with the right team, the right bike, at the right age and with the right mental attitude.
"There's nothing hard about it. If you can't ride both (MotoGP and Superbike) then there's something wrong with you; you're not a very good rider."
That led on to the subject of Vermeulen who, after two seasons in World Superbike - in which he has won ten races on the way to fourth and second in the championship standings - will become the latest Superbike star to switch to MotoGP, next season.
Perhaps surprisingly for the straight-talking Englishman, who has never been afraid to criticise other riders, Foggy was glowing in his assessment of the 23-year-old Australian - whom he believes has the ability to beat even the legendary Valentino Rossi… although he has concerns about Vermeulen's choice of team and machinery.
"Vermeulen is the one guy that I rate very, very highly indeed," enthused Foggy. "I've said 'he's the best thing to come out of Superbike since myself!' - which was a bit tongue-in-cheek obviously, but I really rate him very, very highly.
someone from Superbike is going to MotoGP, at the right age - for a start - and a number one team. Okay the Suzuki team and the people who run it, I don't know a lot about them to be honest, but it is a full factory team so that has got to be a good thing.
"I'm a little bit concerned that Suzuki, and the team, are not quite as good as the Honda or Yamaha teams - that's my only concern - but
, Chris Vermeulen is very, very good. There's no question of that.
"In my opinion, if you put Vermeulen on the same bike as Rossi in two years time he would beat him. I feel he's that good. I really do rate him, higher than I've rated anyone in a long, long time," 'King Carl' concluded.
Foggy is currently running a competition with a selection of racing related prizes - including a PETRONAS FP1 road bike - on offer. Visit www.nokiaFPR.com
to take part.