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Seven-time FIM Grand Prix Road Racing World Champion and MotoGP™ Legend Phil Read has passed away at the age of 83. Known as the ‘Prince of Speed’, Read was the first ever man to win world titles in the 125, 250 and 500cc classes. A spectacular career saw him compete in the World Championship over a period of 16 years during the '60s and '70s, winning 52 Grands Prix and seven Championships across four different classes. He also battled against other giants of the sport such as Giacomo Agostini, Mike Hailwood and Barry Sheene.
He made his Grand Prix debut in 1961, making a handful of appearances that year across the 125cc, 350cc and 500cc categories and took victory in the Isle of Man TT 350cc race onboard Norton machinery. By 1964, he had won his first world title - and a first for Yamaha - when he conquered the 250cc championship courtesy of five Grand Prix victories in the quarter litre class. The following season he retained the title as he won seven of the nine 250cc Grands Prix and finished second in the other two.
In 1968, Read became a World Champion again, in fact winning two titles as he added the 125cc crown and then another 250cc championship to his list of achievements. Having taken the single cylinder honours he denied his team-mate, Bill Ivy, the 250cc title at the last Grand Prix of the year. Although Read only made sporadic World Championship appearances over the next couple of years – whilst the major Japanese factories were incidentally withdrawing from Grand Prix racing - he returned to the 250cc scene full time in '71 to reclaim the title.
In 1972 he got the opportunity to ride an MV Agusta 350cc and the next season the Italian brand also provided him with a 500cc ride. The Englishman repaid the favour by consecutively winning the premier class title in '73 and '74, before finishing runner-up to a Yamaha-riding Giacomo Agostini in '75. Read retired from World Championship racing in 1976.
The legendary Brit will always be remembered for his exploits on track, and the huge character he had both on and off the circuit. The entire MotoGP™ family extends its deepest sympathies to his family and friends at this difficult time.
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