10 Racers Who Belatedly Passed Their Bike Tests

It’s not just Michael Dunlop who left getting his road licences until late in the day, as these examples prove!

Irwin brothers with their test certificates

The news that multiple TT winner and road racing legend Michael Dunlop finally got around to passing his road motorcycle bike test reminded us that he’s not alone when it comes to bike racers who only belatedly took their bike tests – and there are more than you might think.

So here, in no particular order, are the 10 biggest names in bike sport who only got their road bike licences in later years…

Bradley Ray – 2018

The former British Superbike champion and now World Superbikes contender passed his motorcycle test in November 2018 at the age of 21 by which time he was already racing in BSB with Buildbase Suzuki.

After successfully completing his Module Two assessment on a restricted SV650 he said: “The relief afterwards was unreal, honestly. I was genuinely so happy. It’s a shame we’re getting into the winter now, but I’m eyeing up either an SV650 or V-Strom 650 for next year and looking forward to getting on the road and just enjoying motorcycling. Everyone should do it.”

Glenn and Andrew Irwin – 2020

Carrickfergus racing brothers Glenn and Andrew Irwin (top image, Glenn pictured above) were both successful superbike and road racers before passing their tests together in May 2020. By that time Glenn, last year’s BSB runner-up who’s just re-signed with Paul Bird Racing for 2024, was already a four-time winner in the Superbike class at the North West 200. 

Glenn took his CBT training with Moto Training Northern Ireland on a Honda CB650R while Andrew did his test on a CBR650R through Honda’s School of Motorcycling and spent time gaining road experience aboard the entry-level CB125R.

Afterwards, he said: “It’s something I had always wanted to do, but something I never got round to doing.”


Jonathan Rea - July 2021 

He might be king of World Superbikes but Jonathan Rea was anything but king of the road... until 2021. The six-time world champion and most successful Superbike competitor ever, who this year has switched to Yamaha, finally sat and passed his motorcycle driving test near his at home in Co Antrim in 2012 and documented the experience via a series of YouTube videos.

In one of the first videos he posted, the then 34-year-old revealed he “didn’t think it would be so difficult to drive on the road.”

Marc Marquez, 2019

Six-time MotoGP world champ Marc Marquez is dominating the racing headlines this week as he prepares to start his first campaign on a Ducati after spending his whole MotoGP career with Honda. Less well-known is the fact the now 31-year-old only gained his road bike licence in his mid-20s when he was asked how riding on the street compared with the track. 

“It's different. I find it different. When I have to go to Barcelona or (do) a journey in the city, it’s very convenient but I ride very differently – I don't get annoyed riding on the streets.”

Maverick Viñales, 2018

One of Marquez’s greatest track rivals, Aprilia rider Maverick Viñales, also got his road licence relatively late in life.

"I got it last year," explained the then-Yamaha rider in 2019. "It's not easy, I'm telling you. You have to pass between cones and I got more nervous there than in a race.”

Jorge Lorenzo, 2010

Fellow Spaniard and three-time MotoGP champion, the now retired Jorge Lorenzo, is another top-level rider who got his road bike licence in later life.

“I got my driver’s licence when I was 23 years old,” he recalled the now 36-year-old recently. “I was world champion in 250 and MotoGP without having one! 2010. I don’t have a motorcycle because I don’t know if I’m capable of going slow. I never did!”

Danilo Petrucci, 2019

Former MotoGP racer Danilo Petrucci passed his bike test in 2019 – despite by then having already started 127 MotoGP races alone. Since losing his KTM MotoGP ride at the end of 2021 he’s also ridden in the Daker Rally, raced in the AMA Superbike championship and also WSB.

Cal Crutchlow, 2008

By then already racing in British Superbikes and the Suzuka Eight-Hours, Britain’s most recent MotoGP winner Cal Crutchlow only passed his bike test as recently as 2008.

He said at the time: “I had to wear a fluorescent bib and said, "You are joking?’ - it was like being a novice racer again, but I did what I was told and wore it… I can honestly say that riding on the road being followed by an examiner was more nerve-wracking than lining up on the grid! But I’m so relieved to have finally passed my test and I would recommend it to everyone."

Peco Bagnaia, 2022

While, finally, reigning and two-time MotoGP world champion, Francesco ‘Peco’ Bagnaia succeeded in gaining his A3 motorcycle licence in Italy in September 2022 at the age of 25. The Ducati rider moved up into the premier class in 2019, first with Pramac, after winning the 2018 Moto2 title, before being promoted to a full factory ride in 2021.