MotoGP: Top 6 American riders of all time
Although the sport is not all that popular, Americans have won MotoGP Drivers Championship across Premier Class, 350cc and 250cc classes over the years. Although Motocross is way more popular in the USA, MotoGP and Superbike World Championship do have a loyal fan base.
7 American nationals have won a total of 15 MotoGP Premier Class titles. 2 Americans have won Moto2/250cc class Championships.
We look at 6 of the best MotoGP riders from the USA:
#6 Wayne Rainey
Wayne Rainey made his MotoGP debut in 1984 in the 250cc class, riding for Team Yamaha. Mediocre returns in his maiden MotoGP season prompted him to look at greener pastures and he made the switch to Superbike and won the Superbike World Championship in 1987.
It was during this year that he duelled famously with fellow American Kevin Schwantz. Rainey would pip his rival to the title. In 1988, Rainey made a U-turn and returned to MotoGP, this time racing in the 500cc category for Team Yamaha.
Kevin Schwantz, his great rival and contemporary, followed suit and signed up for Team Suzuki. The two would continue to engage in enticing duels, this time in a different format. In his return to MotoGP, Rainey won the British Grand Prix at the iconic Donington Park Circuit. He finished 3rd, accumulating 189 points. The following year, he came up short again, finishing runner-up with 3 victories.
From 1990 to 1992, Rainey struck a purple patch as he notched up a hat-trick of World titles. In 1993, he was well poised to win a 4th title having a lead of 11 points over his nearest rival, Kevin Schwantz when a career-ending spinal injury arising from an on-race crash played spoilsport.
The injury may have deprived him of competing in MotoGP but that didn't stop the champion in him from being involved in the sport. He became the Principal Team Manager for Team Yamaha and shared his valuable expertise with the crew and younger riders. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.