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The MotoGP World Championship from classic motorcycling to the end of the 500cc 2-stroke era.

Meet some MotoGP Legend riders

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Some MotoGP Legend Riders

GIACOMO AGOSTINI 
ÁLEX CRIVILLÉ 
MICK DOOHAN 
GEOFF DUKE 
WAYNE GARDNER 
MIKE HAILWOOD 
NICKY HAYDEN 
DAIJIRO KATO 
EDDIE LAWSON 
MARCO LUCCHINELLI 
ANTON MANG 
ANGEL NIETO 
WAYNE RAINEY 
PHIL READ 
JIM REDMAN 
KENNY ROBERTS 
KENNY ROBERTS JR. 
JARNO SAARINEN 
KEVIN SCHWANTZ 
BARRY SHEENE 
MARCO SIMONCELLI
FREDDIE SPENCER
CASEY STONER 
JOHN SURTEES 
CARLO UBBIALI
FRANCO UNCINI


GIACOMO AGOSTINI 

  • Wins: 122
  • Podiums: 159
  • Poles: 9
  • V. Rapids: 117
  • Titles: 15 (8 of 500cc, 7 of 350cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: MV Agusta (14) and Yamaha (1)
  • His phrase: “I knew that our sport was dangerous and if I saw an accident I thought I had better luck”
  • Rivals: Hailwood, Read, Sheene.
  • Why is it legend? He is the rider with the most world championships in history (15), as well as being the rider with the most titles in the premier class, 8 in the 500cc. From 1968 to 1970 he won all the races in which he took part in the 350cc and 500cc categories. He is the rider with the most Grand Prix victories, 122. He was the first 500cc world champion with a 2-stroke, in 1975 with Yamaha, his last wound. He also had 10 victories at the Isle of Man TT.

 

ÁLEX CRIVILLÉ 

  • Wins: 20
  • Podiums: 66
  • Poles: 12
  • V. Rapids: 20
  • Titles: 2 (1 of 500cc, 1 of 125cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: JJ-Cobas (1) and Honda (1)
  • His phrase: “I arrived in Jerez with the only idea of winning. Any other result would have been a defeat “
  • Rivals: Doohan, Roberts Jr., Biaggi.
  • Why is it legend? He was proclaimed the youngest world champion in history in 1989, after taking the 125cc title in his first season in the category. In the 500cc he was the first Spaniard to get a podium, in Shah Alam ’92 and to get a victory, Assen ’92. His battles against Doohan were legendary from 1996 until finally in 1999 he became the first Spanish rider to win the premier class title.

 

MICK DOOHAN 

  • Wins: 54
  • Podiums: 95
  • Poles: 58
  • V. Rapids: 46
  • Titles: 5 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Honda
  • Nickname: “The Koala”
  • His phrase: “Winning makes something change in your mind. You already know that you can and there are no excuses not to continue doing it “
  • Rivals: Rainey, Schwantz, Gardner, Cadalora, Beattie, Crivillé, Biaggi.
  • Why is it legend? In 1992, when he practically had the title in his pocket, he suffered a serious injury to his right leg that almost cost him an amputation. After multiple operations he recovers and from 1994 he wins 5 consecutive World Cups with enormous force. In the 1997 season he wins 12 of the 15 tests. He retired with the number 1 on the front of his Honda as he suffered a serious injury in Jerez ’99 that forced him to leave racing. Their determination and willpower impressed.

 

GEOFF DUKE 

  • Wins: 33
  • Podiums: 50
  • Poles: 0
  • V. Rapids: 29
  • Titles: 6 (4 of 500cc, 2 of 350cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: Gilera (3) and Norton (3)
  • Rivals: Masetti, Graham, Milani, Armstrong, Liberati, Surtees.
  • Why is it legend? He was the first dominant rider of the World Championship in the 500cc category, adding up to 4 titles with two different brands. He did not get his 5th title because he was sanctioned for half a year without racing by the FIM after supporting the strike in which the pilots asked for more pay for running. From there he never got the same results again.

 

WAYNE GARDNER 

  • Wins: 18
  • Podiums: 52
  • Poles: 19
  • V. Rapids: 19
  • Titles: 1 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Honda
  • Nickname: “Crocodile”
  • His phrase: “I always felt great emotion when running. Sometimes it led me to achieve incredible things and others to get me in serious trouble “
  • Rivals: Lawson, Mamola, Spencer, Rainey, Schwantz, Doohan.
  • Why is it legend? He is remembered for his bravery. He was the first Australian 500cc champion in history, taking the Grand Prix to his country from 1989. His driving style was wild, always on the edge. You are reminded of impressive saves with the always difficult Honda NSR 500cc before the advent of the big bang engine or traction control. In his last years he dragged many injuries that he accompanied with mythical performances such as his victories at Phillip Island ’90, considered by many the best race in history.

 

MIKE HAILWOOD 

  • Wins: 76
  • Podiums: 112
  • Poles: 0
  • V. Rapids: 79
  • Titles: 9 (4 of 500cc, 2 of 350cc, 3 of 250cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: MV Agusta (4) and Honda (5)
  • Nickname: “Mike The Bike”
  • His phrase: “Worrying about death does not help to stay focused”
  • Rivals: Hocking, Read, Agostini, Redman.
  • Why is it legend? Considered by many the best driver in history. He managed to be champion in three categories, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc, even winning races in all three categories on the same day. He won the Isle of Man TT 14 times. In 1966 he joined Honda when they did not have a winning bike and fought until the last race for the 500cc title against Agostini and the powerful MV Agusta. In 1968 Honda retired but they kept Hailwood on the payroll, with a stratospheric salary in case they returned to racing. He participated in Formula 1 where he is remembered for saving the life of Clay Regazzoni in a burning car. In 1978, 11 years after his retirement from motorcycles, he returned to racing on the Isle of Man, surprising everyone by winning the Formula 1 TT category with his Ducati 900SS. The following year he won again with Suzuki in the 500cc Senior TT category. In 1981, already retired from the competition, he suffered a traffic accident when he was shopping with his two children. Michelle, her daughter, died in the act and Mike Hailwood two days later also due to the severity of her injuries.

 

NICKY HAYDEN 

  • Wins: 3
  • Podiums: 28
  • Poles: 5
  • V. Rapids: 7
  • Titles: 1 MotoGP
  • Brands with which he was champion: Honda (1)
  • Nickname: “The Kentucky Kid”
  • His phrase: “When you dedicate your life to something and the dream comes true, it feels really good”
  • Rivals: Rossi, Stoner, Pedrosa.
  • Why is it legend? The last North American world champion, heir to the greatest line of skidders in the world. When Valentino Rossi seemed unbeatable, Nicky was proclaimed champion with a superb performance in the last round of 2006 held at the Circuit of Valencia. Admired by all, not only for his good work on the bike, but also for his kindness and professionalism. Unfortunately, he lost his life on May 22, 2017 after suffering a serious accident while training on a bicycle. He was recognized as a legend in life.

 

DAIJIRO KATO 

  • Wins: 17
  • Podiums: 27
  • Poles: 11
  • V. Rapids: 11
  • Titles: 1 of 250cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Honda (1).
  • Rivals: Jacque, Nakano, Harada, Melandri, Rossi, Ukawa.
  • Why is it legend? His passing at Suzuka 2003 had a very strong impact on the MotoGP championship. He began to forge his legend with performances such as “wild card” in Suzuka where once a year he beat the rest of the pilots who did complete the championship. Finally Honda in 2000 bet on him as a permanent 250cc rider and in his first season he finished 3rd, opting for the title until the end. The following year he dominates the category, taking the title. In 2002 he climbed to 500cc as the great Japanese hope to finally have a champion in the premier class. He shows an incredible talent to compete, he is postulated as the great rival of Valentino Rossi. Unfortunately, at last with the official MotoGP, he lost his life in the first race of 2003. The number 74 was withdrawn in his honor and is still missed decades later.

 

EDDIE LAWSON 

  • Wins: 31
  • Podiums: 78
  • Poles: 18
  • V. Rapids: 21
  • Titles: 4 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Yamaha (3) and Honda (1)
  • Nickname: “Steady”
  • His phrase: “If you have to be a clown or a loudmouth to have charisma, I’d rather not have it. They pay me to win championships “
  • Rivals: Spencer, Gardner, Mamola, Rainey, Schwantz.
  • Why is it legend? For being the rider with the most 500cc titles in the mythical era of the ’80s where great stars coincided with indomitable motorcycles. His style was sober and unspectacular, relying on regularity and constancy, with patience he knew how to seize opportunities. He was champion with Honda, in a satellite team although with official support, after having been champion with Yamaha the previous year. He spent his last two seasons developing the Cagiva brand, with which he managed to reach the podium in 1991 and win at the Hungaroring ’92 before his retirement.

 

MARCO LUCCHINELLI 

  • Wins: 6
  • Podiums: 19
  • Poles: 9
  • V. Rapid: 9
  • Titles: 1 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Suzuki (1)
  • Nickname: “Crazy Horse”
  • His phrase: “Electronics is the doping of motorcycles. Since riders cannot be doped, they have decided to dope motorcycles”
  • Rivals: Mamola, Roberts, Uncini, Spencer.
  • Why is it legend? For his wild and fearless driving that lifted the fans. He got the 1981 title ahead of names like Mamola, Roberts or Sheene. After winning with Suzuki, he signed for the official Honda team where he never won again.

 

ANTON MANG 

  • Wins: 42
  • Podiums: 84
  • Poles: 34
  • V. Rapids: 26
  • Titles: 5 (3 of 350cc, 2 of 250cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: Kawasaki (4) and Honda (1)
  • Rivals: Ballington, Sarron, Spencer, Pons and Roth.
  • Why is it legend? He is the best German driver in history by far. His best years were spent with Kawasaki, where both dominated the 350cc class. In 1987 he got his last title at 38 years of age.

 

ÁNGEL NIETO 

  • Wins: 90
  • Podiums: 139
  • Poles: 34
  • V. Rapids: 81
  • Titles: 12 + 1 (7 of 125cc, 8 of 50cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: Derbi (5), Kreidler (1), Bultaco (2), Minarelli (2), Garelli (3)
  • His phrase: “Races are won on the last lap”
  • Rivals: De Vries, Sheene, Andersson, Bianchi, Tormo, Lazzarini, Kneubuhler.
  • Why is it legend? He is the king of the small categories with 12 + 1 titles and is the second driver in history with the most world championships. He was champion with 5 different brands in a long sports career from the ’60s to the’ 80s. He was the first Spanish world champion and his figure transferred to sport, taking motorcycling in our country to every corner. Once he retired, he remained linked to the championship with his own team, through his children and his nephew Fonsi, also drivers or as a television commentator. He was admired and appreciated by everyone in the paddock, not just in Spain. His death in August 2017 was a serious blow. World Cup fans and professionals showed great respect with massive tributes. One of the greatest had left, an extraordinary person, a self-made champion.

 

WAYNE RAINEY 

  • Wins: 24
  • Podiums: 65
  • Poles: 16
  • V. Rapids: 23
  • Titles: 3 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Yamaha
  • Nickname: “Mr. perfect”
  • His phrase: “As pilot number 1 you have to be the fastest, then you can complain all you want”
  • Rivals: Kevin Schwantz above all else. Also Lawson, Gardner, Doohan and Kocinski.
  • Why is it legend? He knew how to handle the 500cc like no one on cold tires. From the start he took the lead and there would be a gap over his rivals who later could hardly regain their distance. He was very regular and a perfectionist. In his first full year in the top flight he was already 3rd and won his first race at Donington Park ’88, his first with carbon brake discs in the 500cc. The following year he touched the title, marked by the fall in Anderstorp ’89 for from 1990 on Michelin tires and in his usual team, Team Roberts, he dominated the championship for three consecutive seasons. Unfortunately he suffered a serious accident at Misano ’93 when he was leader of the race and leader of the 500cc world championship. Injuries put him in a wheelchair and he was never able to compete again.

 

PHIL READ 

  • Wins: 52
  • Podiums: 121
  • Poles: 5
  • V. Rapids: 36
  • Titles: 7 (2 of 500cc, 4 of 250cc, 1 of 125cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: Yamaha (5), MV Agusta (2)
  • Nickname: “The Prince of Speed”
  • Rivals: Ivy, Hailwood, Agostini, Redman.
  • Why is it legend? He won 7 world titles coinciding on the track with a great generation of rivals, triumphing in categories as different as 125cc or 500cc, with 2 and 4-stroke motorcycles. He is the first rider in history to win the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc World Championships. He also added 8 triumphs in the mythical Isle of Man.

 

JIM REDMAN 

  • Wins: 45
  • Podiums: 98
  • Poles: 0
  • V. Rapids: 35
  • Titles: 6 (4 of 350cc, 2 of 250cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: Honda (6)
  • Rivals: Read, Hailwood, Provini, Phillis
  • Why is it legend? He dominated the 350cc class from 1962 to 1965. In 1962 and 1965 he made the double, also adding the 250cc title. Rider always faithful to the Honda brand. He became the first driver in history to win 3 Grand Prix victories in a single day. In 1966 he finally attempted the assault on the 500cc displacement by beating Agostini and MV Agusta in the first two races of the year. In the third test, at the Belgian GP, he suffered a serious accident in which he was injured and decided to withdraw from the competition.

 

KENNY ROBERTS 

  • Wins: 24
  • Podiums: 44
  • Poles: 22
  • V. Rapids: 27
  • Titles: 3 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Yamaha (3)
  • Nickname: The Martian, King Kenny.
  • The phrase: “Doing second was for me one of the worst things that could happen to me”
  • Rivals: Sheene, Lucchinelli, Mamola, Uncini, Spencer.
  • Why is it legend? His World Cup debut in 1978 had a huge impact. As a “rookie” he took the 500cc title accumulating three consecutive world championships. He imposed a new style of driving where skidding the rear wheel was essential to win, just as he did on the “Dirt Track”. He was the first North American to do so and win in the Grand Prix, after him a generation of great stars would disembark, some like Rainey would be his pupils since when he retired he would form his own 500cc team. His fight for safety in the World Cup is also remembered, even threatening to create a parallel championship to the Grand Prix, the “world series” that ultimately did not take place.

 

KENNY ROBERTS JR. 

  • Wins: 8
  • Podiums: 22
  • Poles: 10
  • V. Rapid: 9
  • Titles: 1 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Suzuki (1)
  • The phrase: “I have the feeling that today has ended a season that has lasted the 27 years that I have”
  • Rivals: Crivillé, Rossi, Biaggi.
  • Why is it legend? He is the only champion son of another 500cc world champion. He won the title in 2000 driving a Suzuki, in a year remembered because many races were held in wet conditions, where the North American driver was clearly the most skillful and regular.

 

JARNO SAARINEN 

  • Wins: 15
  • Podiums: 32
  • Poles: 0
  • V. Rapids: 18
  • Titles: 1 of 250cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Yamaha (1)
  • Nickname: The Flying Finn.
  • Rivals: Read, Pasolini, Gould, Agostini.
  • Why is it legend? He is the only Finnish motorcycling world champion rider. He was called to reach the highest heights. After proclaiming himself world champion in 250cc, he decided to take the leap to conquer the 350cc and 500cc categories in the same year with his 2-stroke Yamaha. He was the first to put his knee to the ground in front of the classic style of driving, he had enormous talent but his end is sad and remembered. In the 1973 Grand Prix of Nations, held at the Monza racetrack, Saarinen was involved in a crash with several drivers. He and Pasolini lost their lives in the so-called “Monza Tragedy”. It was a great blow for the championship that from then on began to understand that safety was a very important factor to take into account. They had lost the great star destined to be 500cc champion.

 

KEVIN SCHWANTZ 

  • Wins: 25
  • Podiums: 51
  • Poles: 29
  • V. Rapids: 26
  • Titles: 1 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Suzuki (1)
  • Nickname: Birdie.
  • The phrase: “When I see God, I know the time has come to slow down”
  • Rivals: Rainey above all. Lawson, Gardner and Doohan.
  • Why is it legend? His charisma and his way of riding, with mythical braking haste, are still on the retinas of all fans of the motorcycle world. He always had to start with the Suzuki, a motorcycle inferior to Honda and Yamaha. He wore the number 34 when the custom of the time was to wear the number of the position from the previous year. Although he won races, he was always very at the limit due to the performance of his motorcycle, losing his options for the titles with his falls. Finally in 1993 Suzuki was able to give him a good bike and that year was the best, getting the well deserved championship after so many years of struggle.

 

BARRY SHEENE 

  • Wins: 23
  • Podiums: 52
  • Poles: 19
  • V. Rapids: 20
  • Titles: 2 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Suzuki (2)
  • Nickname: Bazza, Bionic Man or The Magnificent Seven.
  • The phrase: “If I had been a racehorse, I would have been shot”
  • Rivals: Nieto, Read, Agostini, Lansivuori, Baker, Roberts.
  • Why is it legend? Until their arrival, motorcycle riders were “strange and dark” characters for the public who did not follow racing, but Sheene with his charisma showed another face to the world. With Donald Duck as an image in a helmet with a hole to be able to smoke on the grill. He arrived at the Grand Prix in his private helicopter. Always with a smile, kind to everyone, he was always ready to serve the press and his followers. He popularized the biker gesture of the “V”, which he sometimes even used in the race to distract his rivals. He was the first to not wear the number 1, and keep his mythical 7, after being the 500cc world champion. His career was also marked by injuries. He came out with a miracle life from his accidents at Daytona ’75, which delayed being at his best, and at Silverstone ’82 where he crashed at more than 160 miles per hour. He left us in 2003 after battling cancer and is still remembered with a smile on his face.

 

MARCO SIMONCELLI 

  • Wins: 14
  • Podiums: 31
  • Poles: 15
  • V. Rapids: 9
  • Titles: 1 of 250cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Gilera (1)
  • Nickname: SuperSic.
  • The phrase: “My way of riding is aggressive, never give my arm to twist and give everything in every situation”
  • Rivals: Bautista, Barberá, Aoyama, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner.
  • Why is it legend? Charismatic with his thick curly hair, clueless eyes, he always had a friendly smile for fans, although when he got on his motorcycle with the number 58 he transformed. His aggressive style, he brushed the limit time and time again. His 250cc duels against Bautista and Barberá were legendary, where he won the world title in 2008. In MotoGP, he did not go unnoticed, being a regular in the top 5 from his second season when he already had official equipment. He raised hatred and passions alike. Unfortunately he lost his life in the 2011 Sepang race when he fell and was run over. His memory is still present and fans always have it in their hearts.

 

FREDDIE SPENCER 

  • Wins: 27
  • Podiums: 39
  • Poles: 33
  • V. Rapids: 24
  • Titles: 3 (2 of 500cc, 1 of 250cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: Honda (3)
  • Nickname: Fast.
  • The phrase: “Remaining control when you are on the edge is what makes the difference”
  • Rivals: Roberts, Lawson, Lavado, Mamola.
  • Why is it legend? His arrival caused a sensation back in 1982 where he was 3rd. With his victory at Spa that same year, he would become the youngest 500cc winner in history. 1983 is remembered as one of the greatest duels in history where the young Spencer defeated the veteran Roberts by 2 points, forcing his retirement. “Fast” Freddie was already the youngest champion in history. In 1985 an incredible challenge was posed. Win the 500cc and 250cc title in the same year. He succeeded, being the first and last to achieve it. Unfortunately, the physical stress to which he was subjected resulted in an injury that is very common today, but in the 1980s there was no solution: compartment syndrome in the forearms. Loss of sensitivity, with pain, until you cannot control the motorcycle. After finishing 1985 Spencer never won again, he did not even step on the podium again, at 23 years old this enormous talent would no longer shine. A shooting star that went out very soon.

 

CASEY STONER 

  • Wins: 45
  • Podiums: 89
  • Poles: 43
  • V. Rapids: 33
  • Titles: 2 MotoGP
  • Brands with which he was champion: Ducati (1) and Honda (1)
  • Nickname: Rolling Stoner.
  • The phrase: “Being silky smooth doesn’t make you lightning fast”
  • Rivals: Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa.
  • Why is it legend? His aggressive style, with little traction control and on the edge, caused him to crash regularly, but when he arrived at Ducati on Bridgestone tires, they made a perfect mix, taking his first world championship. In spite of everything, many criticized him then saying that he had won because of the tires. Time proved him right when he switched to Honda in 2011 to dominate the championship and win again. Besides that nobody has won a World Championship with Ducati again. He retired surprisingly at 27 years of age, being at the highest level.

 

JOHN SURTEES 

  • Wins: 38
  • Podiums: 45
  • Poles: 0
  • V. Rapids: 34
  • Titles: 7 (4 of 500cc, 3 of 250cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: MV Agusta (7)
  • Rivals: Liberati, Duke.
  • Why is it legend? We are facing the only driver in history capable of being a champion in the highest category of motorcycling and motorsports. He was a 500cc champion with MV Agusta and Formula 1 at Ferrari. He started in motorcycling, adding titles and victories. In the 1958 and 1959 seasons he won all the races in which he took part in the 350cc and 500cc categories. In the absence of rivals, he was literally bored of winning and so he switched to F1. He recently passed away, in 2017, at 83 years of age.

 

CARLO UBBIALI 

  • Wins: 39
  • Podiums: 68
  • Poles: 0
  • V. Rapids: 34
  • Titles: 9 (3 of 250cc, 6 of 125cc)
  • Brands with which he was champion: Mondial (1) and MV Agusta (8)
  • Rivals: Taveri, Provini, Hailwood, Hocking, Sandford.
  • Why is it legend? The first great dominator of the small category of the World Championship, adding six 125cc titles between 1951 and 1960. After winning the first with Mondial, the rest were always with the dominating brand of MV Agusta. He retired in 1961 as 125cc and 250cc champion. He has 9 world titles, as many as great legends like Hailwood or Rossi.

 

FRANCO UNCINI 

  • Wins: 7
  • Podiums: 21
  • Poles: 8
  • V. Rapid: 3
  • Titles: 1 of 500cc
  • Brands with which he was champion: Suzuki (1)
  • Rivals: Roberts, Mamola, Crosby.
  • Why is it legend? After years as a private driver, showing his good work in the 500cc championship but without the possibility of fighting for the title, at the end in 1982 the Gallina team offered him an official Suzuki with which he managed to conquer the world championship in front of names like Spencer, Roberts , Mamola or Sheene. The following year, after a difficult start wearing No. 1, he suffered a very serious accident at Assen ’83 where he was hit in the head by another motorcycle, lost his helmet and was immobile in a coma on the ground. He recovered and returned to racing the following year, but he no longer recovered his best level.

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