After Mike Hailwood defected to Honda, Giacomo Agostini became MV Agusta’s number one rider and he immediately repaid MV owner, Count Domenico Agusta, with the first of seven consecutive championships in 1966.
With pressure coming from within his own team in the form of Phil Read (GP champion ’73 and ’74) and having the foresight to see the oncoming two-stroke upheaval in the 500cc championship series, Agostini jumped ship to Yamaha. In 1975 Ago won his 8th and final 500cc world Grand Prix title and the first for a two-stroke Japanese machine. Agostini would retire following the 1977 season, but Japanese two-strokes would continue winning until the advent of the four-stroke MotoGP class in 2002.
As much as he was a gifted and talented rider, Agostini was also a brilliant tactician and savvy businessman. In his book, Fifteen Times, Ago says, “So Yamaha offered me an opportunity, and just as I’d done when I was with Morini, I looked ahead and took it. I knew that there was no two-stroke project at MV and I knew I’d have to change if I wanted to keep winning.”
Overall, Ago ended his Grand Prix motorcycle racing career with a total of 15 championships and 122 Grand Prix wins across all classes.
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