Circuit Racing Legend
Born on 9 March 1955 in Recanati, Italy
THE RECANATI ROCKET!
Before Valentino Rossi turned the sport on its head, Franco Uncini was Italy’s 500cc GP racing’s last world title-winning hero having been crowned FIM 500cc Grand Prix World Champion in 1982.
After starting his professional career in the 750cc class, Uncini made his World championship debut in 1976 contesting the 350cc class for Yamaha where he made an immediate impact with two podiums in his rookie season.
The following year he won two 250cc GPs for Harley Davidson on his way to second in the World and after returning to Yamaha in 1978 he scored a couple of 250cc podium finishes, but could not replicate his form of the previous season.
Moving into the premier 500cc class in 1979, two successful years followed as a privateer when he finished fifth and then fourth, although his 1981 season was marred by crashes.
In 1982 he landed a factory Suzuki deal and claimed the biggest prize in global road racing.
In a field packed with factory bikes and famous names including Randy Mamola, Kenny Roberts and Barry Sheene, Uncini was fourth at the opening round of the year in Argentina before embarking on a run of seven podiums – including wins in Austria, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Great Britain and at the GP of Nations – that carried him to the title with three rounds still to go.
His title defence came to a premature halt with a huge crash at Assen, though he returned for two further seasons before retiring at the end of 1985.
FIM 500cc Grand Prix World Champion - 1982