Racing isn’t just about the rider; it’s about the bike, too. Over the course of history, some riders have made a bigger impact on their bikes than others. Here are the top 10 greatest MotoGP riders of all time and why they deserve the title of being greats in the sport’s history books.
1) Mick Doohan
Doohan raced for Honda and Team Roberts during his career, winning five world championships in 500cc Grands Prix (1994, 1995, 1997–1998). Doohan entered all of his 350cc races with Honda, making it to Motorcycle Grand Prix racing’s top level on a Honda when he replaced Daryl Beattie as a rider in 1989. His first victory was at Suzuka in Japan.
2) Valentino Rossi
Rossi is considered one of most complete and exciting riders in MotoGP history. He began racing for his father’s Yamaha team in 2000 before moving to Honda and Ducati, where he has earned more than 100 podiums. In 2007, Rossi became a nine-time world champion, breaking fellow Italian Giacomo Agostini’s record.
3) Casey Stoner
Stoner is a five-time World Champion in motorcycle racing, and one of only two riders to achieve premier class podiums on their premier class debut (the other being Kenny Roberts). At his peak he was widely considered to be among a small handful of elite Grand Prix riders. Nicknamed King Stoner by Spanish fans for his royal style, he has been hailed as a hero in Australia for his accomplishments and marketability.
4) Jorge Lorenzo
A name that needs no introduction, Lorenzo began his career in grand fashion by winning two 125cc world championships in 2004 and 2005. In 2007, Lorenzo moved up to compete in 250cc. He dominated from start to finish, winning all 15 races and claiming back-to-back titles in a thrilling end to one of motorsports’ most dominant campaigns. In 2008, Lorenzo continued his success by defending his 250cc title as well as moving up to become a regular Grand Prix racer.
5) Marc Marquez
On February 25, 2010, at 15 years old, Marquez became youngest rider to win a GP when he won in Estoril. In his first year in Moto2 he was World Champion with a record points total and five race wins. In 2013, he won three races en route to being named Rookie of the Year for Repsol Honda. Marquez clinched his second title on a dramatic last corner overtake after a season-long battle with Dani Pedrosa.
6) Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden is a motorcycle racer from Owensboro, Kentucky. He currently rides for Team Honda Gresini in MotoGP. He has won two races in his premier class career and also races in Superbike World Championship as well as taking part in endurance racing events like Suzuka 8 Hours and Bol d’Or. Nicky had won two 250cc championships which were his first two premier class titles.
7) Dani Pedrosa
If you’re going to win a race in MotoGP, it’s most likely that Dani Pedrosa has something to do with it. The Spaniard currently has 36 wins – 26 more than any other rider on the grid – and 120 podiums. If that wasn’t enough to cement his status as one of greatest riders in history, there are also four world titles and nine championship runner-up finishes for Pedrosa.
8) Loris Capirossi
A two-time 250cc World Champion, Capirossi became a legend in his native Italy for winning races against some of Europe’s most formidable motorcycle racing teams. The Italian rider joined one of those squads when he signed with Ducati for its return to top-level Grand Prix racing in 2003. His best season came four years later, when he finished runner-up in both the world championship and on Ducati’s Desmosedici GP8 V10.
9) Alex Criville
Without a doubt, Alex Criville is one of my favorite riders to watch. His career span was relatively short – but what he accomplished in those years is so remarkable it’s like he raced his whole life. The Spaniard had an impressive record of 18 wins and 54 podiums, including two premier class titles in 1998 and 1999; back-to-back world championship victories.
10) Freddie Spencer
The American rider dominated Grand Prix racing from 1984 to 1986, winning 44 Grands Prix over those three seasons. In 1985, Spencer became only the second rider in history to win five consecutive 500cc races. He’s considered by many to be one of if not THE best GP racer ever.