Famously known in racing circles as 'The Earl of
Speed', Phil Read was the first rider to achieve
the triple honor of winning the 125, 250 and 500cc
categories. In all, the Brit wook seven world titles,
but for some racing fans he will always be best
remembered as one of the original rebels of motorsport.
Born in Luton, England in 1939, this smiling and
elegant rider who was a lover of luxury (he went
to the tracks with his white Rolls) practically
closed the glorious MV world championship cycle.
MV called him in 1972, after he had already won
five world titles with Yamaha, not only because
of his class and experience, but also owing to his
disposition. He was combative and meticulous, and
impatient of secondary roles.
The 1968 season would go down in history as one
of the truly great GP battles. While Giacomo Agostini
cleaned up in the larger capacities, Read and Ivy
fought for every inch of tarmac in all the lightweight
events. By the closing races, Read was set to take
the 125cc title while Ivy was on course for the
250cc crown. However, Yamaha were concerned that
the fierce struggle between the two riders might
stop the team from winning the 250cc title again.
As a result, the company decided to make an executive
decision: Read would take the 125cc title and would
support Ivy in his quest for the 250cc crown. However,
after his disappointments of the year before, the
more experienced rider decided to disobey his team's
orders and took the 250cc title as well. Ivy had
to settle for 2nd in both categories and was understandebly
It was precisely this aspect that made him an interesting
stimulus for Agostini, who was anything but in disarmament,
but who was too fearful of the Japanese offensive.
Read raced in 1972 with the 350, getting good results,
and in 1973 with the 500 where, with full leeway,
he was able to capture the title with ?Ago? coming
in only third. He was left MV?s only leading man
in 1974 and confined himself to just the top class,
winning the title again without much difficulty.
That was the last world trophy for the Cascina Costa
He retired from the World Championship at the age
of 37 after 16 years at the top.
- 1964 - 250cc World Champion
- 1965 - 250cc World Champion
- 1968 - 125 and 250cc World Champion
- 1971 - 250cc World Champion
- 1973 - 500cc World Champion, MV Agusta
- 1974 - 500cc World Champion, MV Agusta