The Greatest MotoGP Racing Champions

Posted on 29 October 2014 by Tony Santos

There are very few people that can lay claim to being a world champion in their respective domain at the age of 21-years-old, but one who can is current MotoGp champion, Marc Marquez. Not only did the Spaniard win the 2013 MotoGp in his debut season – a feat that hasn’t been achieved since Kenny Roberts won in 1978 – but he is also on course to make it two consecutive championships. The youngster has won every race bar one this season and currently leads teammate Dani Pedrosa by 89 points with six races left to go.

It is clearly evident that Marquez is destined for greatness – if he hasn’t already earned the accolade, that is. One of the greats of the track, Valentino Rossi, stated last year that Marquez has “all the potential to become the greatest of all time”.

So how, and where, does Marquez rank in the list of greatest motorcycle riders?

Marc Marquez

marc-marquez

by Corentin Foucaut

Races: 30

Wins: 17

Points: 622

Championships: 1

As previously stated, Marquez looks very likely to make it two out of two in the championship department. It is near-on impossible for the Catalonian lad to lose his crown – he is that far clear that he is the resounding favourite with Betfair for the MotoGp crown, while many other leading bookmakers have completely stopped taking bets on the next champion altogether.

Riding aboard the Honda RC213V this season, Marquez became the youngest rider to ever win nine consecutive races, before winning a 10th in Indianapolis to join riders Mick Doohan and Giacomo Agostini as the only competitors to win 10 races on the trot.
It is testament to the quality of Marquez that he warrants inclusion in a list like this considering his relatively short career; but, he is – and will continue to be – the top dog in MotoGp. That was evident enough in the fact that he was recently the rider chosen to become the first person to ride a motorised vehicle over the Millennium Bridge, London – just one of many records that currently belong to Marquez.

If his career maintains its current trajectory, Marquez will have lived up to Rossi’s tip and be the greatest ever MotoGp rider of all time.

Giacomo Agostini

giacomo-agostini

by twm1340

Races: 186

Wins: 122

Points: 1493

Championships: 8

Nobody has won more championships than the Italian who dominated the motorcycle scene in the 1960s and 70s. Agostini won seven consecutive titles between 1966 and 1972, and, unsurprisingly, it is he who is currently billed as the greatest rider of all time.

Ago, as he is colloquially known, rode for MV Augusta under the temperamental owner Count Dominico Augusta – which is an achievement in its own right – as well as Yamaha from 1974 onwards and won titles with both manufacturers.

As previously mentioned, he is also one of the now three drivers to have won 10 consecutive races and was instrumental in getting the dangerous Isle of Man TT removed from the MotoGp calendar – his close friend Gilberto Parlotti died on the course in 1972 causing Agostini to boycott the event. Other drivers followed suit and in 1976 the British race was moved to Silverstone.

As a rider he has won with both two and four stroke machines – in fact he was the first to achieve that feat. His eight titles well and truly cement his place as the greatest and even though Rossi came close to usurping him, he ultimately fell short of Ago’s legacy.

Marquez knows that if he wants to go down as the greatest then he has to at least equal Agostini’s eight titles. That said; it has been 37-years since Agostini was competitively racing, so it is by no means an easy record to break.

Valentino Rossi

valentino-rossi

By Willtron

Races: 214

Wins: 67

Points: 3,511

Championships: 7

Arguably the most famous name in MotoGp, Valentino Rossi has carved out a phenomenal 14-year career in premium bike racing.

After honing his skills in the 125cc and 250cc categories he was rewarded with a seat at Honda in 2000, replacing the retiring Mick Doohan, who would serve as a mentor for Rossi during his primitive racing years.

Rossi’s debut season saw him finish second behind Kenny Roberts, Jr. in the 2000 500cc Championship. That was the last time for some while that Rossi would finish behind another rider. The 2001 500cc Championship saw Rossi romp home to the title; beating fellow Italian Max “Mad Max” Biaggi.

With the following season introducing the MotoGp class (four stroke 990cc bikes) 500cc models were obsolete. Despite having to get used to a new bike it did not faze Rossi, who won eight of the first nine races whilst experiencing expected teething problems with his new machine – he eventually won 11 races and the inaugural 2002 MotoGp Championship.

After winning the maiden world championship Rossi won the next three, making it five consecutive titles on the bounce. He missed out on making it six by five points in 2006; finishing second to American Nicky Hayden, and he was comfortably beaten by Casey Stoner in 2007. But, he responded in typical Rossi fashion throughout the 2008 season, as the Yamaha rider won the 2008 championship by 97 points from Stoner. His take over on the corkscrew of Laguna Seca Raceway, California, is something that sticks in the memory of most MotoGp fans. The year after saw the emergence of Jorge Lorenzo in the Yamaha team but again Rossi clung on to his crown.

The 2009 success was Rossi’s last, before a two-year spell at Ducati was nothing short of disastrous for the most-part. His return to Yamaha has been successful thus far, but it seems hugely unlikely that he will be able to win another crown with the might of Honda and their riders Marquez and Pedrosa.

Mick Doohan

mick-doohan

by bluXgraphics(motorcycle design Japan)=Midorikawa

Races: 137

Wins: 54

Points: 2,283

Championships: 5

Australian racer Mick Doohan was the racer of the 1990s; winning five consecutive titles between the years of 1994-98.

After debuting in 1989, a season where he finished a respectable 9th, Doohan seemed to be the perennial runner-up as he finished 3rd, 2nd, 2nd and 4th in the years between his maiden season and his first world title.

Like many Australian riders, Doohan was a little crazy. His injury in 1992 would have caused most riders to retire from the sport, but not Doohan. Riding for Honda, the Brisbane racer suffered a terrible crash in the practice session of the Dutch TT held in Assen. The injury to his right leg was both serious and permanent and at one point amputation seemed like the only option due to serious medical complications. At the time of the crash Doohan was 65 points clear in the driver standings. However, after an arduous eight-week recovery, he returned for the final two races of the season, but was unable to claim his first title – eventually missing out by just four points to American Wayne Rainey.

Now, how many people in the world of sport can make such a triumphant return from near-ruin? Not many at all. The grit that Doohan showed to get back on the bike is the making of a true great.

Even when he retired he was still doing the sport a great service, as he acted as a mentor for Rossi and as you would have just read, we all know how good he is.

Mike Hailwood

mike-hailwood

By twm1340

Races: 152

Wins: 76

Points: N/A

Championships: 4

“Mike the Bike” was – and still is – one of the greatest road racers to have ever graced the sport – his nickname was aptly given to him for his ability to ride any bike regardless of engine capacity.

In 1961, Hailwood was riding for the up and coming Japanese factory Honda, together, the two grew to heights neither would have expected. In that same year he made history by becoming the first man to win three races in a week at the Isle of Man TT, reigning victorious in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc categories.

However, in 1962 Hailwood moved over to MV Augusta, where he won his first world title. He proceeded to win the following three championships, in the process becoming the first rider to ever win four straight.

Hailwood made his name at the infamous Isle of Man course. The mountainous course has seen many riders crash – with a proportion of these crashes sadly ending with death. By 1967, the Brit had won 12 times on the course, including the 1967 race – which is considered one of the greatest by motoring historians. Hailwood averaged a record 108.77mph round the course, a record that stood for eight years, as he successfully held off Agostini.

With Honda leaving the sport in 1967 Hailwood moved into Formula One, where he raced for Lotus and McLaren amongst others. Although he raced 50 times Hailwood could never claim a win on four wheels, but he did manage two podiums in a respectable career.

The Hailwood love affair with the Isle of Man TT continued in 1978. After an 11-year hiatus from bike racing, a then 38-year-old Hailwood strapped up once more. Many believed that he wouldn’t be competitive enough to get anywhere near the top of the leaderboard. How they were wrong! Riding on a Ducati 900SS, Hailwood not only proved that he was competitive but he went on to win the event, in what is one of sport’s greatest ever comebacks. After racing on the island the next year Hailwood retired for good.

Sadly for the motor world, Hailwood was killed in a road accident in 1981 aged just 40.

Now of course it would be utopian to say that Marquez is up there with these fellows but he really isn’t far off. He already has one title, and the next is not too far away. None of the other greats managed to win the MotoGp World Championship at their first attempt.

Then there is the age factor. Marquez will be 22 this year and would already have two titles in MotoGp. Rossi is now 35-years-old and still racing competitively, which gives Marquez at least 13 more years to claim some more world titles – in theory at least. This goes some way to showing that time is well and truly on the young Spaniard’s side.

The bike itself needs credit. Honda are the best manufacturer in the business right now and will continue to be for years to come. The combination of the best bike and the best rider is a beautiful one and one that should see Marquez rule supreme for the next few years.
Marquez is light years ahead of the competition, as we have all witnessed this season, which has been a one-horse race from the get go. The opposition are good but they are not fit to hold a torch to the young Catalonian.

Injury permitting, Marquez will hang up his helmet as the greatest rider in motorcycling history. His start to his brief MotoGp career certainly gives off all the right signals.

To conclude, Marquez is destined for greatness and in truth, he’s not that far from it already. As long as he doesn’t have any career threatening injuries then he will no doubt better the eight World Championships of Giacomo Agostini.

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