As much as racing is about talent and tenacity, there's also a giant side-order of luck involved in the career of every rider; the roll of the dice can mark one out for greatness while another disappears and deny some hard-working, race-winning riders from ever having the championship trophy on their mantelpiece.

The same luck can work the other way, too. Riders with fewer career race wins than anyone on our top 10 list have walked away with the championship, whether due to ill fortune of others or the ability to sustain a string of solid podium finishes while more flamboyant race winners throw points away.

Of course there are endless question marks over the unfulfilled potential of riders with careers cut short by injury or worse. Would Marco Simoncelli have been a champion? Could Daijiro Kato have been Japan's first top-class title winner? These are impossible questions, so we've stuck to a list that's supported by fact; race wins. We've looked purely at wins in the top class - 500cc or MotoGP - and at riders who never took a title at that level.