Grand prix motorcycle racing reached an important crossroads 50 years ago. Imagine that Jackie Stewart’s closest rivals during the 1971 F1 World Championship were a bunch of young upstarts driving pimped-up Jaguar E-types and Ford Capris.
This was the situation in which Giacomo Agostini found himself that summer. During 1971 the Italian stallion won his sixth consecutive 500cc world title, riding four-stroke grand prix bikes belonging to the Agusta family. He had no serious opposition because Meccanica Verghera Agusta was the only manufacturer contesting the championship, but the privateers who shared the podium that year rode mongrels powered by two-stroke engines taken from a new generation of high-performance Japanese road bikes.
Agostini’s state-of-the-art three-cylinder MV made around 80bhp and was available only to those riders anointed by Count Agusta, which in 1971 was Ago and no one else.