MOTOGP » Mike Hailwood
Career 500cc/MotoGP world championships:
4 – 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965.500cc/MotoGP race wins:
After a stellar career riding different machinery in the lower formulae, Mike Hailwood caught the eye of Count Agusta, who gave the Brit his 500cc GP debut with the factory MV Agusta team at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix.
'Mike the bike' made an instant impact, winning the race in a year in which he also clinched the 250cc World Championship for Honda. Hailwood was thus signed for the full 1962 500cc World Championship by MV Agusta and steamrolled the series - winning five of the eight races.
Hailwood improved his hit rate further in 1963, claiming victory in seven of the eight rounds, while 1964 brought little respite for his rivals as he sped to six wins out of eight starts and his third consecutive premier-class world crown.
1965 saw future eight-times world champion Giacomo Agostini signed to ride alongside Hailwood in the factory MV Agusta team, but Mike again dominated - winning eight of the ten rounds.
However, the tables would be turned the following season when Hailwood moved to Honda and, after a disappointing start to the season, would lose his 500cc crown to Agostini by 6-points – but the Brit did have the consolation of beating 'Ago' to the 350cc title and Yamaha’s Phil Read for his second 250cc crown.
Hailwood defended both the 350 and 250 titles the following season, but Agostini retained the premier-class prize by virtue of 3 second place finishes to Hailwood’s 2, after both finished the season tied on points and number of race wins (5).
Despite such success, Honda would pull out of GP racing at the end of the year and Hailwood later made a successful switch to four-wheel racing, but his promising efforts met a premature end after injuries sustained in a high speed F2 accident.
Nevertheless, Mike recovered and even returned to two-wheeled sport, at the age of 38, winning several classes at the 1978 and 1979 Isle of Man TTs before retiring again. Hailwood, best remembered for his incredible ability to quickly take any type of machine to its absolute limits, was tragically killed in a road traffic accident in 1981.