The first season of the motorbike Riders Championship was held in 1949 and the races were overseen by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM, International Motorcycling Federation). British rider Leslie Graham riding for Team AJS Porcupine won the very first 500cc Championship. In the early days, 80cc and 300cc bikes were used.
Today, there are 3 classes - Moto3, Moto2 and the premier class MotoGP where the maximum engine displacement permitted is 1000cc. All the three classes use four-stroke engines only. Since 1949, we have had 26 different Riders' Champions belonging to 6 different nations. We take a look at 5 drivers with the most podium finishes in the Premier Class :
#5 Giacomo Agostini
With 122 Grand Prix wins across all Motorbike classes, Italian racing great Giacomo Agostini is a towering figure in Motorsport. The Italian won a record 8 500cc Premier Class Championships. In all, he won a total of 15 Championships.
He won 7 consecutive Championships from 1966 to 1972 as a part of Team MV Agusta. His last Championship came with Team Yamaha in the year 1975. He won 68 500cc races and stood on the podium 88 times.
#4 Mick Doohan
Australian racing legend Mick Doohan made his debut in 1989 riding for Team Honda. He won 5 consecutive Championships between 1994 and 1998. In his 10-year MotoGP career, Doohan won 54 races and accumulated a total of 2283 Championship points.
His most dominant season was the 1997 season where he won a total of 12 races from 12 pole position starts and finished with a record aggregate of 340 points. The most successful MotoGP rider from Australian stood on the podium 95 times.
#3 Dani Pedrosa
The two-time 250cc World Champion, Dani Pedrosa of Spain has been an evergreen rider over the years delivering consistent performances. He is the youngest ever 250cc World Champion. Right from his 125cc debut in 2001 till 2018 when he announced his retirement from MotoGP, he has been a part of Team Repsol Honda.
Pedrosa has won at least one race in 12 consecutive seasons from 2006 till 2017 - a record he shares with Italian great Giacomo Agostini. In 212 starts counting up to the 2018 Thailand Grand Prix, Pedrosa has had 112 podium finishes - the most among those riders who have never won the Premier Class Championship.
#2 Jorge Lorenzo
After tasting back-to-back success in the 250cc racing class in 2006 and 2007, Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo made his premier class debut in MotoGP in the year 2008 riding for Team Yamaha. In a 9 year association with Team Yamaha, Lorenzo won the Riders Championship thrice and also finished runner-up thrice. He has won a total of 47 wins from 187 starts and has stood on the podium 114 times.
#1 Valentino Rossi
Rider #46 Italian legend Valentino 'The Doctor' Rossi is the only man in Motorbike racing history to win Championships across 4 different classes. He has won the 125cc, 250cc and the now discontinued 500cc class once each. He has won the MotoGP class a total of 6 times giving him a total of 7 Premier Class Championships.
With 115 overall wins across all categories, Rossi is second only to Giacomo Agostini on the all-time list of wins across all classes. The only rider with over 5000 Championship points, Rossi has won 89 Premier Class Grand Prix races - an all-time record. 'The Doctor' has had a whopping 196 podium finishes till date and looks well on course to complete a double century.