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An idea struck me after reading Tom’s Top 10 lists about 500cc/MotoGP and World Superbike champions. There are so many great riders who come through both series, and yet, at the end of the year, only one of them can be crowned champion. The rest? They get the unfortunate distinction of bridesmaids (hence the lead photo above from the movie with the same name). It’s often said in professional sports that nobody remembers second place, but in this Top 10 I’m doing just that – paying tribute to the top riders who were never able to bring home a world title.

This list will consist of five riders from World Superbike and five from 500cc/MotoGP who achieved great things in their World Championship careers and yet failed to win the big prize. In compiling a list like this there are bound to be many names who don’t make the cut, just like there are bound to be many riders from the early days of Grand Prix racing who are simply forgotten. This isn’t intentional, of course, and if you have a rider you think is deserving of the list, feel free to mention him in the comments section below.

  • christian

    At the start of the article, I made a guess on who is the last one. And I was right. Dani is a perfect example of a good rider, deserving the title of Alien, that is hampered by his luck.

    • fastfreddie

      I was sure it was Mamola,but as Siahaan so aptly put it,it seems fitting to be runner-up on this list too.Cheer up Randy,you’d take top honors if there ever was a top-bloke award:)

    • Goose

      Luck in racing is mostly created by the rider and his team. I don’t see Dani as unlucky, I see him as not very smart or maybe lacking in self-confidence. He makes poor decisions on the track (how many unforced crashes?) and off (letting that asshat, perennial loser Alberto Puig micro manage him for years).

      Here is a quote from Kevin Schwantz “Dani lacks nothing,” Schwantz said, “but he has too much – like Alberto Puig. Dani needs to reach another level by himself. He is like a child who cannot be freed because his parents are holding him back. I like Dani, but he’s a rider who has been with Honda for eight years and not won anything. I would like him to prove me wrong, but I don’t think that will happen”.

      Anyway, fun article. I was pulling for Randy but, once again, he is Mr. bridesmaid. I still see the big difference between Randy and Dani is that Randy enjoyed the hell out of his career, Dani doesn’t seem to be having much fun.

  • Robbie

    I have to agree with Goose in the fact that Dani isn’t unlucky. Dani is a lab experiment in the Spanish world of motorcycle racing. You could say that he was even manufactured by Puig and company. At the end of the day he just didn’t have that last few percent to be a champ. I also have to say that the scandal with him cheating on his maritime exam (quickly swept under the rug by his handlers) left a bad taste in my mouth. They say bad karma will follow you.
    A great list and many memories relived after reading. Thanks for a great article!

  • Chris Kallfelz

    “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, to many Randy Mamola is considered the greatest rider never to win it all.”

    Hear, hear…

  • Jack Meoph

    My favorite racer from these guys was Frankie Chili, watching that guy ride was always fun. Haga-san is next, and he got ripped off by a bunch of do nothing punks and shouldn’t be on this list. The Go-Show was just crazy fast, he was one of those racers that could ride around a problem with his bike. I watched most of these guys in person during the 90’s and early 2000’s, and WSBK was THE series back then. And I didn’t mind the AMA showing up for the races back then, because they were somewhat competitive when they raced the WSBK guys, and the grid was HUGE. Now, I wouldn’t go to a MotoGP race if you payed me. First with DMG and now with MotoAmerica participating, it just waters it down to such an extent that it’s not worth the money, time, or effort to go to it. I want the whole show, not the Americanized version of it.

    • Goose

      LOL, Frankie was great fun. My favorite quote from PFC was in response to the normal “How’s it going?” question. Frankie’s response:

      I Crash Too F****ing Much!

      I miss him, the newer riders are mostly too corporate.

  • Old MOron

    BTW that lead photo is hilarious, MOronic fun. Just the kind of thing that makes MO MO, and makes it the best.

    • Kevin Duke

      The graphic kudos go to our newshound and super-helpful utility man, Dennis Chung!

  • tristan50

    Pierfrancesco “Frankie” Chili.. Loved watching him ride! What he could do on an old privateer bike. What heart and skill he had!

  • Archie Dux

    Max Biaggi does not belong on this list. He has won it all, at least six times.

    Had you not included Biaggi, you might have included Regis Laconi.

  • Tavares

    I consider Haga 2000 WSBK Champion.

  • Tavares

    Biaggi is a 4 time 250 Champion, and a 2 time WSBK Champion. He wasn’t a MotoGP Champion, but a lot of talented riders weren’t either.