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Over the course of a remarkable career of 17 years, the peerless Giacomo Agostini won 15 World Championship titles, 10 Isle of Man TT crowns, an astonishing 122 Grand Prix. He became motor cycling’s first genuine world superstar and, whether riding a 350cc or 500cc, he was nearly always the man to beat whenever he took up his position on the starting grid.
Brought up in Lovere, near Bergamo, he cut his racing teeth in hill-climb events before being offered a place on Morini’s works team in 1964. He immediately began to impress and was soon given a World Championship ride by MV Agusta as understudy to Mike Hailwood. Hailwood became something of a mentor to him. He made his first telling impact in 1965 when he rode a 350cc three cylinder to victory on its very first outing at the Nurburgring. He narrowly missed out on his first World Championship that year but, following the departure of Hailwood to Honda, Agostini became MV’s No 1 rider.
On the 350cc, he was twice runner-up to Hailwood in both 1966 and 1967 but he managed to take revenge on the 500cc as he prevailed in several duels between the two riders over the same two seasons. Agostini claimed the 500cc world title in both 1966 and 1967.
The departure from the scene of Honda in 1967 heralded eight years of Agostini motorcycling dominance. He completed the world title double with MV - on both the 350cc and 500cc - in 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972. In 1973, he won the 350cc title and then, with Yamaha, he won the 350cc world crown in 1974 and the 500cc title in 1975.
Agostini enjoyed his last competitive year in 1976 when he managed to notch up Grand Prix wins in both the 350cc and 500cc class. Fittingly, his last career victory came at the Nurburgring - the German venue where he had won his very first Grand Prix race back in 1965.