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Top 10 MotoGP-winning nations

Which countries turn out the most successful riders in the top tier of bike racing?

 

WE'VE had 70 years of Grand Prix racing since the series kicked off back in 1949 but despite entries coming from all over the globe in the 876 top-level (500cc/MotoGP) races until the end of 2018 only 18 nations can lay claim to winners in that category.

And even among those winning countries, there’s a clear division between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ when it comes to the contents of their national trophy cabinets.

Before we dive into the top 10, here are some of the countries that missed out.

Germany; despite massive motorcycle industry and a racing heritage going back to the very dawn of the concept, just one German rider has taken a top-class win (Edmund Czihak, on a Yamaha at the 1974 Nurburgring race). France is another country with a massive motorcycling population, not to mention a strong history of getting teenagers onto mopeds at an early age, but little top-level racing success. It lays claim to just three 500cc GP wins.

So which nations do make the top 10? Read on to find out…

9=: Brazil: 7 wins

Rather than 10th place, we’ve got two countries sharing ninth spot with seven wins. The first is Brazil, and it’s all thanks to just one man. It was, of course, Alex Barros who took every one of Brazil’s top-line wins. He achieved three in the four-stroke MotoGP era and another four on 500cc two-strokes, starting in 1993 with a win on a Suzuki at Jarama and ending a dozen years later with his 2005 victory at Estoril. All but that first win came on Hondas.

9=: Ireland: 7 wins

Ireland’s seven wins put it on a par with Brazil, although they’ve been spread over a wider number of years and riders. Reg Armstrong was the country’s first and most prolific winner, starting with the 1952 IoM TT (then a GP round, of course) and taking another three victories, the last at the 1956 race at Solitude. Tom Herron was Ireland’s most recent winner, at the Isle of Man in 1976.

8: Netherlands: 8

The Netherlands went through a strong period in the 1970s, with Wil Hartog taking the majority of the nation’s eight wins with five victories between 1977 and 1980. His victory at his home race at Assen in 1977 was the nation’s first top-level win. The most recent Dutch win came courtesy of Jack Middelburg at Silverstone in 1981 (he also won at Assen in 1980).

6=: Japan: 12 wins

We skip a seventh place to find Japan in sixth-equal with 12 wins. This is another motorcycle-mad nation that you might have expected to have more victories to its name. In fact, all Japanese GP wins came in a mere eight-year span between 1996 and 2004. Norick Abe, Tadayuki Okada, Tohru Ukawa and Makoto Tamada are the only Japanese riders to win top-tier GP races.

6=: Rhodesia: 12 wins

The only country on this list that doesn’t exist anymore, Rhodesia (these days it’s Zimbabwe) might not seem the most obvious nation to spawn GP winners, but multiple victors Jim Redman, Gary Hocking and Ray Amm all called it home. Amm was the first, at the 1953 IoM TT, Redman was the last, at Hockenheim in 1966. But Hocking was the most successful, accounting for eight of Rhodesia’s victories. Seven of them came in 1961, when he took the 500cc title.

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