Anyone who has had any interest in international motorcycle racing has heard of the legend Giacomo Agostini.
If world championship titles were the only yardstick to determine the greatest racers of all time, the Giacomo Agostini would be at the head of the list.
If we were to dig deeper and include the total number of race wins in individual classes or wins across all classes, then the picture becomes very interesting. There is no denying that Giacomo Agostini was in a class of his own whenever he swung a leg over a racing motorcycle. Apart from being the greatest motorcycle racer ever, Giacomo Agostini must have been a good fortune-teller, too, when you consider that although MV Agusta had been his more than able partner in his world championship winning rides, he surprised everyone by opting to ride for Yamaha in the 1974 season, and went on to win the most prestigious American race, the Daytona 200, in his very first outing for them.
He also won the 350 world championship that same year. The following year he won the 500cc title, the first time a two-stroke had won the premier class.
Debates and differences of opinion will never cease when viewing careers and event in retrospect and many are of the opinion that many of Giacomo Agostini's wins can be attributed, to a grat extent; to the lack of serious competition in terms of riding skill as also the clear-cut superiority of the MV Agusta over the rest of the competing machinery prevalent at the time. But there are no rules on that and, in all fairness, Agostini will remain one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time, and at the time he was racing, he was undoubtedly the best.
If there is anything that detracts from Agostini's exploits in motor sport it is his foray into four-wheel single-seater racing. His BMW-powered Chevron B42 may have been competitive but Agostini certainly wasn't.
Agostini retired from racing in 1980 but returned in 1982 as head of Team Yamaha Marlboro Agostini. Under his management the team won three premier class 500cc world championships, ridden by Eddie Lawson. The team also managed the great Kenny Roberts and the double world champion, Freddie Spencer, at some point in their respective careers.