Opinion piece: Who is the Greatest Of All Time?

The ‘G.O.A.T’ a phrase thrown around by many MotoGP fans, but who really is the ‘G.O.A.T’? Or is the G.O.A.T purely down to personal opinion

Valentino Rossi sits in a club of a few riders who were able to win five consecutive with Mick Doohan and Giacomo Agostini to name just two, it was Colin Edwards who was one of the first to dub Rossi as the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ with many people agreeing and overnight, across MotoGP, people starting calling Valentino the G.O.A.T.

Rossi, as humble as he is, does not claim he is the G.O.A.T saying he “I am on the podium of history, it is impossible to say if I am better than Ago or Mike.”

This is because the argument also boils down to two other names, Giacomo Agostini and Mike Hailwood. Agostini is the most successful rider of all time with 15 titles to his name and 122 wins, the problem is that numbers do not tell the full story, this was a time when riders could contest in multiple championships, therefore Agostini amassed a lot of his wins on the same day, winning 2 races a weekend with 2 titles a season. The numbers very quickly added up, not to mention that Agostini was also the only factory rider on the grid for most of his career with MV Agusta, he had a 30hp advantage which assisted him to win a lot of races. This absolutely does not take away from the achievements of Giacomo, these feats were achieved at a time when a lot of riders were not arriving home with their lives.

Giacomo Agostini

Not to mention that Agostini also won Isle Of Man TT races, 10 to be exact, at a time when drum brakes and super skinny tyres were not uncommon. The Isle of Man TT is the most dangerous and famous road race in the world, with the track taking a total of 260 lives, it was not uncommon to hear of multiple riders losing their lives at this track before it was removed from the calendar following a strike from riders including Agostini.

Based on this, you may feel that Agostini is the G.O.A.T, but Mike Hailwood fans would disagree. Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood has a total of nine world championships to his name and a staggering 14 Isle Of Man TT wins, not to mention that Mike returned to the Isle Of Man in 1978 after 11 years to contest on a Ducati 900SS, people did not think he would be competitive, but who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hailwood won the race in style. Hailwood managed his nine titles in only nine years, taking 76 wins in the process, not even Rossi’s record is that good.

Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood

Hailwood also had a career in F1 competing for Team Surtees, this was unsuccessful for the most part however he managed two podiums amongst a flurry of DNF’S.

If you look at race wins, Valentino Rossi is the G.O.A.T, he has a total of 89 premier class wins vs Agostini’s 68 and has done so on two different manufacturers, 500cc two-stroke machines, 1000cc four-stroke machines, 990cc’s and even 800cc’s in a technically demanding era, but Agostini has eight premier class titles compared to Valentino’s seven.

Truthfully, the question cannot be factually answered, not one rider is worthy enough of the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ badge because it is truly impossible to compare them, could Rossi win at the Isle Of Man TT? Maybe so, could a prime Agostini win on a Yamaha M1, potentially. But we do not have concrete answers for this, the ‘G.O.A.T’ accolade is truly down to personal opinion, the times have changed and Rossi rides in an era which is completely different to the era Hailwood and Agostini raced in.

The Greatest Of An Era accolade is something which can be factually proven with Valentino Rossi taking that crown for the 2000-2009 decade, but of all time? He sits on the podium with Agostini and Hailwood, none of them a winner, none of them a loser.

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