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75 years of the MotoGP world championship

75 years of the MotoGP world championship

From its beginning in 1949, the MotoGP World Championship reaches its 75th year in 2024. Initially based on the production motorcycles of the day, MotoGP today is the pinnacle of two wheel racing technology, along with the most skilled and talented motorcycle riders on the planet.

Starting off in the post war years with motorcycles bought off the showroom floor, suitably modified, the World Championship, as MotoGP when then known, comprised of several engine capacity classes. Initially running 50, 80, 125, 250, 350, 500 and 750 cc displacement categories in various eras, this had been rationalised to the 125, 250 and 500 championships by the late 1970s.

From the late 60s, two-stroke engines dominated the grid, offering the best horsepower to weight ratio four-stroke engines couldn’t hope to match. With the move to four-stroke power plants in 2002 including the name change from Motorcycle World Championship to MotoGP, this heralded the modern era of motorcycle racing.

Carlo Ubbiali (left), Mike Hailwood

Since 1949 there have been 1,015 Grands Prix staged across the world, the 1,000th race happening in Le Mans, France, in 2023. This equates to 3,371 races across all classes in the individual category.

Across the seven-and-a-half decades of MotoGP, there have been 126 riders who claimed the title of World Champion with the crown of most championship wins going to Giacomo Agostini having 15. Angel Nieto has the second greatest number of championships with 12+1 (Nieto had triskaidekaphobia, a phobia of the number 13, and preferred to use “12+1”).

Mike Hailwood and Valentino Rossi tie with nine championships a piece, along with Carlo Ubbiali. Coming into the 2024 MotoGP season, 399 riders have previously won individual races, so, expect to see the 400th rider to win a MotoGP race happen this year.

Angel Nieto (left), Giacomo Agostini

The most successful manufacturer in the world championship, across the 75 years of MotoGP history, is Honda, with 821 solo wins since the Hamamatsu firm started competing in the 1960 championship. This is not disregarding its entrance in the Isle of Man TT in 1959 n the 125 class, then and now acknowledged as the most difficult and dangerous road racing in the world.

Following Honda, Yamaha has taken 520 individual wins across the various MotoGP championships, followed by Aprilia with 297 victories. MV Agusta, with its hallowed racing history, has 275 wins to its name while Kalex, which supplies racing machinery for the lower classes, has 176.

By nationality, racers from 30 countries have won Grand Prix races, Italy leading the pack with 888, followed by Spain with 722. Coincidentally, 30 countries have staged Grands Prix, the latest to do so being India with Buddh International Circuit hosting the MotoGP in 2023.

75 years of the MotoGP world championship

Valentino Rossi

The first Malaysian Grand Prix was held in 1991 at the Shah Alam Circuit in Batu Tiga, the final race of the season. Won by John Kocinski, riders complained of the tropical heat, something that has become a signature for racing in Malaysia.

Grand Prix racing in Malaysia moved to Sepang International Circuit in 1999. Like the international rounds of MotoGP, Honda has rqcked up the most Grand Prix wins in Malaysia, with 33 across all classes since 1991, followed by Aprilia with 19 and Yamaha with nine.

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