In the early years of Moto GP, it was primarily famous Italian names such as Gilera world champions six times in the 1950’s and MV Agusta who set the standard.
Same applied to competition at the rounds at roads venues, although at the TT Races it took the Italian giants till 1955 to claim 500cc class honours, with Gilera emerging triumphant thanks to the great Geoff Duke.
Prior to the start of the Italian national anthems dominating on the Mountain Course, the early 50’s saw one make in particular in another league, Norton.
Winners of the first ever 500cc Grand Prix race at the TT in 1949 courtesy of three time event winner Harold Daniell, they went onto enjoy class success for a further five years.
Photo by B R Nicholls
Into the 60’s and MV Agusta went unbeaten in the manufacturers championship, enjoying sustained tumultuous moments with stars such as Giacomo Agostini, John Surtees, Gary Hocking, Remo Venturi and Mike Hailwood.
In amongst MV’s dominance, the early beginning’s of Japan’s now legendary motorcycle racing heritage was beginning with Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki all enjoying momentous moments a plenty.
The next decade the 70’s which proved ultimately a turbulent time in roads circuits relationship with Moto GP, saw MV Agusta continue to dominate championship wise with Agostini.
At the roads courses though, results from the mid 70’s on wards, started to have a different feel about them as new stars like Konig mounted Kim Newcombe, Suzuki’s Jack Findlay and Benjamin Grau who’s still racing today, all becoming Grand Prix race winners.
Other iconic makes we must not forgot to congratulate on their achievements in a golden era for Moto GP include AJS world champions in 1949 with Leslie Graham, 50cc king pins Kreidler, the Czech Republic based Jawa brand plus Matchless and BSA.
The next and concluding part of pure road racing’s Moto GP connection, focuses upon the modern day relationship it has with the international road races, which are year on year growing by the tens of thousands in popularity, prestige and stature.
Words by Stevie Rial