Mike Hailwood – last 500cc title
Motorcycle legend Mike Hailwood was hired by MV Agusta during the 1961 season. Count Agusta wanted to keep on with the 500cc title series started by John Surtees (58, 59, 60) and Gary Hocking who won in 1961, then left motorcycle racing following Tom Phillis’ death at the 62 TT. Hailwood won four consecutive titles: (62 with five wins, 63 with 7 wins, 64 and 65 with 8 wins each). The picture shows Mike-the-Bike in Monza, last race of the 64 season, climbing on the big MV.
Then, history moved on. During the winter, a team mate was contracted by Count Agusta for the team – Giacomo Agostini. Count Agusta had made a new, lighter, 500cc 3-cylinder racer, and he wanted that bike to be ridden by Ago when it would be ready. In the 500cc Mike Hailwood clinched eight wins (with his team mate six times in second place), and Agostini one (in Finland). In the 350cc class, however, Mike Hailwood and the MV had so far lost each season against Jim Redman and the four-cylinder Honda rocket.
At the end of the season, in Suzuka, Japan, Hailwood clinched his last win on a MV Agusta in the 350cc (no 500cc race was held), and his first win since 1961 on a Honda in the 250cc class. The contract had just been signed between the British legend and the Japanese factory…
Text Marc Pétrier - Photo FIM Archive/Maurice Büla Collection