Grand Prix motorcycle racing celebrates its 64th birthday this year. Since its introduction in 1949 many facets of the sport have changed except for the constant ability of one man to dominate his competitors. There have been, in fact, only 25 premier class champions in motorcycle Grand Prix’s 64 years of existence.

Before getting to our Top 10 rider picks, however, here’s some other interesting stats from the last 64 years of GP motorcycle racing.

Rider World Championship Winners by Country

Great Britain hasn’t had a premier class champion since Barry Sheene in 1977. However, with the previous multi-time champions including Sheene, Phil Read, Mike Hailwood, John Surtees and Geoff Duke, England remains in second place owning 17 World Championship rider titles. With the current crop of Spanish riders including Jorge Lorenzo, Mark Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, expect Spain to soon pass Australia for fourth on this list.

Country Rider World Championships
Italy 20
Great Britain 17
United States 15
Australia 8
Spain 3
Rhodesia 1

Constructor World Championship Winners

Only these five manufacturers have scored multiple premier class manufacturer’s titles. Like the British riders who haven’t had a championship in 36 years, MV Agusta hasn’t won a manufacturer’s title since 1973 but remains the OEM with the most titles. Honda and/or Yamaha will soon surpass this long-standing record.

Manufacturer Constructor World Championships
MV Agusta 18 (17 consecutive)
Yamaha 16
Honda 15
Suzuki, Gilera 8
  • 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.