Today marks not only the start of the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, but also the 70th anniversary of the very first race that counted towards the World Championship classification – the 350cc race at the Isle of Man TT in 1949, won by British rider Freddie Frith on a Velocette.
Frith went on to win all five races in the inaugural 350 World Championship and took the title, and then he retired from racing. The very first 500 World Champion was Les Graham on an AJS, the first 250 Champion was Bruno Ruffo on a Moto Guzzi, and Nello Pagani took the honours in the 125 class on a Mondial.
Here are some facts and statistics covering the history of the sport from those first laps to now...
• So far, 929 Grand Prix events have been staged since the start of the World Championship in 1949.
• At these events, a total of 3114 races for solo classes of Grand Prix racing have been held since the very first at the Isle of Man back in 1949.
The King is still Giacomo Agostini: 15 WC and 122 victories
• 117 different riders have clinched at least one world title in any solo class of Grand Prix racing. The rider with most world titles is Giacomo Agostini with 15, followed by Angel Nieto (12+1), Mike Hailwood (9), Valentino Rossi (9) and Carlo Ubbiali (9).
• A total of 372 different riders have stood on the top step of the podium across all solo classes of Grand Prix racing. The rider with most GP wins is Giacomo Agostini with 122 victories, followed by Valentino Rossi (115), Angel Nieto (90), Mike Hailwood (76) and Marc Marquez (73).
Petrucci between the 111 different riders have won only one GP
• Among these 372 winners, a total of 111 different riders have won only one GP race since 1949, the most recent of which is Danilo Petrucci in Italy this year.
Valentino Rossi is the rider with most podium finishes on 234, followed by Giacomo Agostini (159)
• A total of 718 different riders have finished on the podium in all solo classes of Grand Prix racing. Valentino Rossi is the rider with most podium finishes on 234, followed by Giacomo Agostini (159), Dani Pedrosa (153), Jorge Lorenzo (152) and Angel Nieto (139).
Italy leads with 811 wins
• The winners in solo classes have come from 29 different nations. Italy leads with 811 wins, followed by Spain (609), Great Britain (383), Germany (191), including East and West Germany, and Australia (180).
• Since the very first season in 1949, 30 different countries have hosted a Grand Prix race. Spain leads, with 400 races contested, followed by Italy (347).
• Honda is the most successful manufacturer in Grand Prix racing (solo classes) with 776 wins, followed by Yamaha (502), Aprilia (294), MV Agusta (275) and Suzuki (157).