#1 – Giacomo Agostini


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.

  • 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.