The Italian was already a living legend when he joined the Yamaha Factory Team for the 1974 500cc and 350cc World Championships. The YZR500 OW20 had already proved its potential in the hands of Jarno Saarinen when the four cylinder two-stroke hit the Grand Prix stage in 1972 and the superstar from Brescia identified the changing scene in the premier class by embracing the new technology. ‘Ago’ was a thirteen-time world champion by 1974 (six in the 350cc and seven in 500cc classes) when he joined Yamaha seeking a fresh challenge. The combination began in fierce fashion with a victory in all five races on the 350cc 0W16 for title number fourteen. The following year, in 1975, Giacomo’s four wins and two additional podiums on the formidable 500cc 0W23 gave Yamaha their first championship in the premier-class; a watershed moment.
Giacomo forged a strong association with Yamaha and returned to the 0Ws and steered the 0W35 in his final season (his fourteenth) in 1977 where he gained two more podium results. After a brief attempt at car racing Agostini started a successful managerial career and helmed the factory squad at a time when Kenny Roberts and Eddie Lawson were at the heights of their powers. Needless to say the records (15 titles, 122 wins, 68 500cc triumphs, 159 podiums in all classes) mean that Agostini will always hold an elevated position in the annals of motorcycle sport. His flamboyance and charm made him a household name in Italy and he is a figure that commands the upmost respect when he makes annual promotional appearances at the age of 68. Ago has also been an important part of the Yamaha Classic Racing Team and takes great delight in wheeling out his rasping ‘smokers’ for the older generation of fans to roll back the years and a younger audience to wonder at a bygone age.
To find out more about Yamaha’s Racing history, you’re kindly invited to read through Yamaha’s dedicated anniversary website.