|MotoGP Winning Percentage (Riders with at least 10 wins thru 2016)|
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Since it's the hot stove time of the season, we thought it might be interesting and go back and look at the all-time winning percentages of the top MotoGP/500cc riders throughout history.
We looked only at riders with at least 10 premier class victories.
Some will argue winning percentage is one way to compare riders from different eras, but that can be tricky. As one longtime racing pundit put it, "It's one thing to talk about riders like Rossi and Marquez who have competed against a number of other factory riders their entire careers, to a rider like Agostini who raced a factory MV mostly against a bunch of privateers on Nortons."
It may be a surprise to modern GP racing fans that Brit great John Surtees won a stunning 84.6 percent of the premier class GP races he started. Some counter that Surtees' numbers should not be counted since he had well less than half as many GP starts as most of the other riders on the list. Surtees switched to Formula 1 car racing full-time when he was just 26 years old. It would have been interesting to see what his numbers would have been had he raced into his early 30s, which would have put him quitting just about the time the Agostini era began.
Many who were around during his era still ardently claim Mike Hailwood as the greatest motorcycle racer of all time. That claim is bolstered by perhaps the most legendary motorcycle racing story of the sport's history, when in 1978, at the age of 38, Hailwood made a comeback after being away from motorcycle racing for 11 years and won the Formula One TT at the Isle of Man riding a Ducati 900SS. Then to put icing on the cake, he came back and won the Senior TT the next year on a Suzuki RG500!
Some would also be surprised to learn that eight-time 500cc GP World Champ Giacomo Agostini is only fourth on the all-time winning percentage list. It's still amazing to consider that the only rider among the top six on the list to have over 100 race starts that he won at a clip of 58.1 percent of the time.
Were you surprised to see Kenny Roberts' winning percentage, coming in at 40 percent, is essentially equal to that of current world champion Marc Marquez? Roberts earns the distinction of having the highest winning percentage among the long list of American racing greats.
And finally, the most surprising stat of all perhaps is the fact that Valentino Rossi has fallen so far down the list and is now ranked only tenth. In 2005 Rossi was atop the list of modern riders with a winning percentage of 56 percent, but continuing to race undeniably past his all-time prime, has witnessed his winning percentage tumbling down over 25 percentage points.
The question is, does the fact that Rossi's winning percentage currently is only tenth best and that he could very possibly fall out of the top 10 in the next couple of years affect his staus of being the greatest of all-time? Probably not to his many fans.
Working against Rossi is the fact that Ago' has more premier class titles (eight vs. seven) and now of course his dwindling winning percentage.
On the plus side is Rossi's sheer number of premier class wins, an all-time record of 88 as opposed to second-place Agostini with 68 wins. That and the fact that Rossi inarguably won his seven premier world championships against a deeper field of competition that that of riders like Agostini ...
Looking at the sheer raw numbers of winning percentage, where would you place riders like Surtees, Hailwood and Geoff Duke in terms of all-time greats?
At the very least it makes for great off-season discussions.