Franco Uncini MotoGP Hall of Fame
World Championship history continues to build at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in San Marino. On Thursday, the late Italian Marco Simoncelli’s #58 was retired from racing during a ceremony by his father Paolo and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta.
The tributes continued Friday when the 1982 500 World Champion, the Italian Franco Uncini, was inducted into the FIM MotoGP World Championship Hall of Fame. He was the final Italian to earn a 500cc title before Valentino Rossi completed the feat in 2001.
Uncini began Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the former 250cc class in 1976 with Yamaha, and went on to compete aboard a mix of Yamaha and Harley-Davidson machinery through 1978. During his 250/350 years, Uncini earned seven podiums.
For 1979, he moved to the premier 500cc class with Suzuki, and earned the 1982 title. Earned is an understatement; Uncini took seven podiums that season, including five wins, and beat Graeme Crosby (Yamaha) by 27 points. That year the grid was full of talent, including American GP Champions Freddie Spencer and Kenny Roberts, and the Brit Barry Sheene.
During the 1983 Assen TT, Uncini was involved in a near-career-ending crash. While on the ground, then-500cc rookie Wayne Gardner’s Honda ran over Uncini’s head, which resulted in a coma. Uncini recovered and returned to racing for two more years, but retired after the 1985 500cc Championship (won by Freddie Spencer).
Today, Uncini remains active in World Championship racing, and is the FIM Safety Officer for MotoGP.
Unicini joins a long list of greats that have been made MotoGP™ Legends that includes Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Nicky Hayden and Alex Crivillé.
Franco Uncini says “I am very happy. This is another time for me in which my dreams have come true. For this I have to thank IRTA, Dorna the FIM and all of you. For me this is an important moment and I’m very, very happy. Thank you so much.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta says: “”This is a special day for us. To nominate someone as a MotoGP legend is always important, but today it’s also very important because of the the relationship we now have with Franco. Franco was a big hero in the 500 and 250 categories, but also in this new era working together, Franco has been a crucial part of the evolution of MotoGP.
“We are very proud to give him this award, and it’s a big honor for us to have Franco as a MotoGP™ legend. Also personally for me, he is a big friend of mine and I am personally so happy to give this award to him. It’s a special day for MotoGP.”