Legends: Giacomo Agostini
Italy’s Giacomo Agostini holds the all-time records for the greatest number of world championships and grand prix victories.
Agostini between 1965 and 1976 won 122 grands prix in the 350 and 500 cm3 classes, and 15 world titles — eight 500 and seven 350. He won seven 500 titles in a row from 1966 to ’72, and another in 1975, and all his 350 titles in a winning streak that ran from 1968 to ’74.
Agostini’s career stats are quite staggering. He once won 20 500 grands prix in a row! But such records have distorted the way many people look at his career.
It’s quite true Agostini had world 350 and 500 titles largely at his mercy on the MV-Agusta triples between 1968 and ’72. But there are a few points critics tend to forget.
The man from Bergamo progressed in one year (1965) from Italian 250 champion to almost dethroning world 350 champion Jim Redman. Agostini followed that up by winning the 1966 and ’67 world 500 titles against Mike Hailwood – often cited as the greatest all-time rider.
MV had never won a 350 or 500 championship with an Italian rider, until Ago arrived – and he helped develop the new-generation three-cylinder racers.
What was his secret? Former mechanic Nobby Clark and sometime rival Kenny Roberts made the same observation: he had great feel for the bikes, worked assiduously at getting them right, then went fast.
‘Mino’, as he known by friends in the MV days, the first rider to win the world 500 championship on a two-stroke machine, taking the 1975 crown for Yamaha. But in 1976 he ran his own team and used an MV to record the last four-stroke victory in a 500 GP on a damp and misty Nurburgring.