Top 10 Grand Prix Race Winners
Since the motorcycle world championships started in 1949 there have been solo races for the 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 350cc, 500cc, Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP categories. And by November 2017, the total of individual solo race winners was a staggering 360 riders.
No less than 103 of those riders only got to stand on the top step of the podium on one occasion but some have gone on to take race win after race win and, more often than not, multiple world championships with it. Here’s the current list of the all-time top ten Grand Prix race winners.
1. Giacomo Agostini – 122 wins
In a Grand Prix career that began in 1963 and ended in 1977, Italian Giacomo Agostini racked up a staggering 122 race wins and, despite retiring exactly forty years ago, that remains the highest number of race wins recorded by any rider. With 15 world titles taken during that time, 13 for MV Agusta and two for Yamaha, the Italian has rightly been labelled as one of the greatest riders of all time although the critics will point out that a large proportion of those race wins, between 1968 and 1972, were taken with very little opposition.
MV Agusta had no competition in the 500cc class after Honda withdrew at the end of 1967 until Yamaha and Suzuki came onto the scene in the early 1970s and many of Ago’s wins were taken with him lapping most of the field, who were mounted on outdated single cylinder British machines. However, more telling is the success he had between 1966 and 1967, when he fought tooth and nail with Mike Hailwood, Jim Redman and Phil Read and 1974-1975 when he moved to Yamaha to turn the tables on MV. Wins at practically every Grand Prix circuit, which were predominantly public road courses, show that Agostini could master any challenge that was put in front of him.
2. Valentino Rossi – 115 wins
It was back in 1996 when a fresh-faced Valentino Rossi took his first Grand Prix win with victory coming in the 125cc race at Brno, Czech Republic and whilst it was clear then he was an exceptional talent, few would have thought he would go on to have the career that he has. Twelve wins would be taken in the 125cc class, along with the title in 1997 and he then added 14 more wins in the 250cc category, a second world title being claimed in 1999. He immediately moved into the premier class, two years on 500cc two-strokes and then four-stroke MotoGP bikes ever since.
With his Grand Prix career currently spanning 22 years, one of the longest of all time, the Italian has taken seven premier class titles and 89 class wins to move him on to an all-time total of 115, just seven behind Agostini. His win rate has slowed down in recent years – ten being taken in the last five years – so beating his fellow countryman’s long-standing tally may ultimately elude him especially as he turns 39 in 2018. However, his appetite remains as strong as ever whilst he’s still a class act so he still has a great chance of moving to the top spot.
3. Angel Nieto – 90 wins
Just like Italian Carlo Ubbiali before him, Angel Nieto concentrated his efforts on the smaller capacity classes and with 90 wins in the 50cc and 125cc categories the Spaniard was the undisputed ‘King of the Tiddlers’. Having made his Grand Prix debut in 1964, Nieto’s career would span an incredible 23 years but he had to wait until 1969 for his first GP win, victory coming in the 50cc German Grand Prix that year on his way to winning his first World Championship.
Over the next 15 years, Nieto would ride works machines for Derbi, Morbidelli, Kreidler, Bultaco, Minarelli and Garelli and would claim 13 world championships (or ‘12+1’ as the superstitious Nieto used to say!), a figure only bettered by Agostini. 90 race wins were taken during that time with seven titles coming in the 125cc class and six in the 50cc division. Despite winning Spanish National Championships in the 50cc, 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and Superbike classes, his Grand Prix career was confined to the two smallest classes and he retired at the age of 39 in 1986.
He went on to run a successful Grand Prix team as well as work for Spanish television only to pass away in July 2017 after a quad bike accident in Ibiza.
4. Mike Hailwood – 76 wins
The most successful British rider of all-time, many still consider Mike Hailwood to be the greatest rider there’s ever been with Valentino Rossi the only one to come close. Hailwood’s achievements saw him win 76 Grand Prix races, the first in the 1959 125cc Ulster Grand Prix and the last in the 1967 350cc race in Japan with nine world championships coming in that time as he rode works machinery for MV Agusta and Honda.
After taking the 250cc World Championship for Honda in 1961 – when aged just 21 – MV Agusta snapped him up and he would give the Italian manufacturer four consecutive 500cc World Championships between 1962 and 1965. Success in the 350cc class was harder to come by and in 1966 he moved back to Honda to challenge for the 250cc, 350cc and 500cc titles, claiming 250cc-350cc doubles in both 1966 and 1967. He had to give best to Giacomo Agostini, who’d replaced him as the number one rider at MV Agusta, in the 500cc class and retired at the end of 1967 to forge a successful car racing career.
After being badly injured at the 1974 German Grand Prix he retired from four wheels only to return to bikes in 1978 after an 11-year hiatus. He famously took wins at the Isle of Man TT in both 1978 and 1979 before retiring for good only to lose his life in a road accident in March 1981.
5. Jorge Lorenzo – 65 wins
The second Spaniard in the current top ten, Jorge Lorenzo made his 125cc World Championship debut on his fifteenth birthday in 2002 and just a year later he claimed his first Grand Prix win in Brazil. Three more wins were taken in 2004 as he finished fourth overall and three seasons in the 250cc class subsequently followed, the first one on a factory Honda and then two years with Aprilia. No less than 17 race wins were taken across the 2006 and 2007 seasons as he claimed back to back World Championships and he was promptly signed by Yamaha for the 2008 MotoGP season.
The Majorcan rider remained with Yamaha from 2008 until 2016 and in those nine seasons he took three World Championships and only finished outside the top three in his maiden season in 2008. Lorenzo has now taken 44 MotoGP wins, the fourth highest ever in the class, to firmly establish himself as one of the finest Grand Prix racers not just currently but also in the history of the sport. 2017 saw him make a big money move to Ducati but it was the first time he hadn’t won a race during a season since 2005 although, still only 30, he has plenty of seasons ahead of him.
6. Marc Marquez – 61 wins
Marc Marquez was a fresh-faced 15-year old when he made his Grand Prix debut in 2008 and that maiden season saw him take his first podium in the 125cc race at Donington Park. He had to wait two years for his first win but 2010 saw him claim no less than ten Grand Prix victories on his way to winning the 125cc World Championship. Two years in the Moto2 class followed and after taking seven wins and second overall in 2011, the following year saw him take his second world championship after adding nine more wins to his rapidly growing collection.
2013 saw him join Repsol Honda and the MotoGP World Championship where he’s remained ever since and the success story has shown no signs of slowing down as he’s taken four world championships in those five years. He’s taken 35 more wins, including a staggering 13 (out of 18 races) in 2014. Despite being only 24, he’s already amassed 61 Grand Prix wins to sit in sixth overall on the all-time list and, if he stays injury free, he has every chance of breaking every record before him.
7. Michael Doohan – 54 wins
Michael Doohan arrived on the Grand Prix scene in 1989 having forged a formidable reputation for himself in the Australian Superbike Championship and its World counterpart having won as a wild card in 1988. The Australian had only made his racing debut in 1986 and his maiden 500cc season was far from easy but he grabbed his first win, in Hungary, in 1990 on his way to finishing third overall. He went one better in 1991 and looked on course for his first world title in 1992 after dominating the first half of the year before a badly broken leg cut short his season and almost his career.
He regrouped and together with the NSR500 Honda went on to dominate the 500cc class between 1994 and 1998 taking five consecutive World titles. He racked up a total of 54 wins in the class, a total only bettered by Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi and could well have taken more had he not suffered further injuries in early 1999 which ultimately led to his retirement from the sport.
= Dani Pedrosa – 54 wins
Having started racing bikes at the age of four, Dani Pedrosa made his World Championship debut in the 125cc class in 2001 after being selected from the Movistar Activa Cup, a series designed to promote fresh racing talent in Spain. It didn’t take him long to make his mark and after taking two podiums in his debut season, his first wins came a year later when he finished third overall. 2003 saw him take the 125cc World title and he immediately moved into the 250cc class where he took back to back championships. Twenty Grand Prix wins were taken in those three seasons and that paved a way into the 2006 MotoGP World Championship with Repsol Honda who he’s remained with ever since.
The premier class title has ultimately eluded him but he’s taken second overall on three occasions and third also on three occasions, regularly chalking up race wins. Indeed, in 12 seasons with Repsol Honda, he’s taken 31 MotoGP race wins and with 54 now in total, the now 32-year old sits in an impressive joint seventh on the all-time winner’s list.
9. Phil Read – 52 wins
Born in 1939, Read first came to the fore when he won the 1961 Junior race at the Isle of Man TT, his first Grand Prix victory, and he remained in the World Championship until 1976 carving out one of the most successful careers of all-time. His big break came in 1964 when he was signed by the factory Yamaha team who he remained with until 1968 and in that time he won four World Championships, three in the 250cc class and one in the 125’s, taking 31 GP wins during that time. When Yamaha pulled out, he continued as a privateer with another World title coming his way in 1971.
In 1972, he had selected outings for MV Agusta and this led to him riding for them full time between 1973 and 1975 adding two more world titles to his collection, this time in the 500cc class. Although he was often overshadowed by Mike Hailwood, the duo having countless battles in both 1966 and 1967, this made him the first man to win world championships in the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc classes, a feat that wasn’t matched until Valentino Rossi achieved it in 2000. Read retired from Grand Prix racing in 1976 with 52 wins to his name and 112 podiums, the latter remaining the sixth highest of all time.
10. Jim Redman – 45 wins
Born in London in 1931, Redman and his family emigrated to Rhodesia (now Zimbawe) in 1952 where he soon established himself as a leading motorcycle racer. With a number of championships under his belt, he returned to Europe in 1958 achieving moderate success and it was in 1960 when his career really took off as he gained a ride with the factory Honda team after an injury to regular rider Tom Phillis.
Redman soon became team captain for Honda and would go on to ride for them for seven seasons in total, claiming four consecutive 350cc World Championships from 1962 to 1965. In 1962 and 1963 he also took the 250cc crown and in 1964 he made history at Assen, Holland when he became the first rider to win three Grand Prix races in one day. Having moved into the 500cc class in 1966 to spearhead Honda’s challenge on the premier class, he won the first two races but a crash at round three in Belgium left him with a badly broken arm and he was forced to retire.
= Casey Stoner – 45 wins
Despite retiring at the age of 27, Casey Stoner recorded 45 Grand Prix wins, the same as Redman to sit, currently, in joint tenth on the all-time list – which only begs the question, how many more victories would he have taken if he had continued racing? The Australian was still very much at the top of his game when he chose to walk away from the sport and his lightning pace can still be seen today as a test rider for Ducati where he regularly features amongst the quickest riders, a stunning feat given his infrequent activity.
Stoner’s first GP win came in the 125cc class in 2003 and after another victory in 2004, he took five race wins in 2005 when he took second overall in the 250cc World Championship. From 2006 until 2012 he competed solely in the MotoGP category taking two world championships, one for Ducati and one for Honda, with 38 more wins taken in that seven-year period. 23 wins on the Ducati make him the most successful rider on the Italian machine, by some distance and very few riders, if any, have been able to make the Desmosedici work like he did.
All data correct as of November 2017.