Four-time World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty says he is more interested in road racing these days than any other discipline of the sport.

The bike racing legend, who will return to the North West 200 for the first time in almost two decades to complete demo laps on a Ducati, is impressed by the current crop of TT stars aiming to wrestle away John McGuinness' standing as 'King of the Mountain'.

Young guns in the mould of Michael Dunlop and Conor Cummins have emerged as serious contenders in recent years, with Ian Hutchinson, Gary Johnson and Guy Martin also snapping at McGuinness' heels.

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Fogarty said: "To be honest I probably prefer road racing these days. I've been watching some races on Eurosport like the Southern 100 and Cookstown 100 and there's just a more relaxed atmosphere at road races and it's more grassroots.

"I've been back at the TT in recent years and there's about six or seven guys now who can win it. John McGuinness is still the king of the Mountain but there are other riders challenging him and I don't think that's been the case for some years now.

"I loved racing in Ireland and I always had a good following, right back to the years when I was almost like Joey's team-mate in 1988 when I won the TT Formula One world title," Fogarty added in an interview with the Belfast News Letter.

"We both helped each other out that year and he was at the celebrations back in my home town in Blackburn and then when I won at Kirkistown in '88 we went back to his pub and stuff, so I've always had a really good reception over there.

"So many people are saying how great it is that I'm going back."

Renowned for his aggressive riding style and ferocious fighting spirit, 'Foggy' built up a massive following during a stellar career that saw the Blackburn star capture four World Superbike crowns (1994, 1995, 1998, 1999), two Formula One world titles (1988 and 1989) and the FIM Formula One World Cup in 1990.

The 46-year-old also won three races at the TT and was involved in one of road racing's most iconic showdowns in the 1992 Senior, losing out by four seconds to Steve Hislop (JPS Norton) but setting a new lap record on the final lap at 123.61mph on his Loctite Yamaha, which incredibly stood for seven years.

Fogarty, who marked a famous Superbike double with an emotional celebration on his last appearance at the North West 200 in 1993 on the Moto Cinelli Ducati, jumped at the chance to return to the popular Irish road race.

"It's been almost 20 years since I was at the North West 200 - I've not been back since I last raced there in 1993 when I did the double.

"I've talked about going back a lot of times but most years I've had something else on and I've not been able to make it for whatever reason," he said.

"It's great to be a part of it all again and hopefully we'll see some good racing and then I'll do a lap by myself, if I can remember which way it goes! I can't wait and it can't come quick enough for me now."

Reflecting on his epic Superbike double in 1993, when he also set a new lap record at 122.491mph, Fogarty vividly remembers his elation at finally winning a race at the North West after several years of misfortune.

"I'd kind of been the fastest guy at the North West 200 for two or three years before that, but because of machinery problems I never managed to win the race.

"In 1992 and '93 I had a lot of problems with the Hondas and I kept thinking it was never going to happen," he said.

"Then obviously I went there on the Ducati and the bike was obviously the best that year - you need a fast bike at the North West because of the high speeds, so there was so much relief after winning a race that meant so much to me.

"I thought it was going to elude me because of the problems I'd had before, so I was glad to finally get the win and go on to other things."