#2 – Valentino Rossi

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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.