#2 – Valentino Rossi


With nearly a third of all world championship rider titles Italy is the country that dominates motorcycle Grand Prix racing. Of those 20 titles 15 are owned by two Italians, one of them being Valentino Rossi with seven premier class championships.

Placing second in his rookie season by 49 points to Kenny Roberts Jr., Rossi returns the next season to win the final world title aboard a 500cc two-stroke V-Four Honda. In 2002 he wins again aboard the all-new Four-Stroke V-Five 990cc Honda in the newly christened MotoGP class, repeating the effort again in 2003.

In 2004 Rossi switches manufacturers, this year winning the championship aboard a Yamaha, becoming the second racer since Lawson to accomplish such a feat. He garners his fifth championship and second for Yamaha the next year. Following a two-year drought Rossi reclaims the title again in ’08 and ’09.

With 80 premier class race wins (and counting), Rossi bests his legendary rival Giacomo Agostini with 68 but Ago owns eight premier class titles and that’s why he remains number one.

  • TraderJoesSecrets

    It’s Hailwood. Take him out of the slot he’s in, and move him to #1. Shuffle the others back accordingly, and you’re good.

  • fastfreddie

    Tsk,tsk.No place for the great Freddie Spencer?

    Agree with TJS about Hailwood.

  • orangelion03

    Might argue with the rankings (and will enjoy arguing that over beers), but agree completely with the nominees.

  • Scott Holbrooks

    Yes, you better put Spencer in there, but you better not drop Schwantz off the back end either. Fast Freddie won the 500 & 250 in the same year. Unthinkable! I know Rossi is great, but riding the MotoGP bikes is just like a step above Superbikes. The 500’s were animals.

    • John Woods

      Rossi won a 500 title! In fact, he’s won in every class/configuration of GP bikes that have been around for the last 15 years – 125, 250, and 500cc two-strokes, 1000 (technically, 990) and 800cc four-strokes.

  • Not including Fast Freddie was a hard decision, but this was about premier class championships so his winning a 250cc title didn’t weigh on the outcome. Yes, he was a two-time premier class champ, but so was Barry Sheene and Casey Stoner and Phil Read. These three riders were, in fact, the ones Schwantz beat out making the 10th slot in this list.

  • John

    I have to disagree about Fast Freddy. He won the 250 and the 500 World championship in the same year.
    good god man.

  • theUg

    Wrong. According to Wikipedia article, Sanyang Industrial Co. Ltd., as it was called then, formed joint venture with Honda in 1962, which persisted for 40 years until dissolution of that partnership in 2002.