Four-time World Champion Stefan Dörflinger has been named a MotoGP™ Legend in a ceremony at the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, taking his place amongst the greats. Dörflinger won the 50cc World Championship in 1982 and 1983, and then became the first ever 80cc World Champion in 1984, a title he defended the following year.
Dörflinger had a long and successful career that saw him first compete in the Grand Prix paddock in 1973. He took his first podium that season in the Yugoslavian Grand Prix, before taking more top fives the following year as he became a more regular face on the grid. In 1975, he was back on the podium in the Spanish Grand Prix and the Nations Grand Prix.
In 1976 he took on a new challenge as he competed in both the 50cc and 125cc World Championships, something he would continue to do for much of his career. A regular top finisher in both, Dörflinger took more podiums – including his first 125cc podium in 1979 – before 1980 finally saw him take to the top step in the 50cc class.
Coming first or second in every race bar his first that year, the Swiss rider was gaining traction and 1981 began with a win. But it was 1982 when Dörflinger finally took his first title, winning the first three races of the season on the way to the crown. He defended the 50cc title the following season, taking another three wins.
1984 saw the dawn of the 80cc World Championship, and Dörflinger was immediately a success. On the podium first time out, a first win in the new category wasn’t far away and again it was a trio, beginning in the Austrian Grand Prix. Another win later in the season added to his achievements and he became the first ever 80cc World Champion.
As he’d done previously in the 50cc class, Dörflinger then defended the crown and became a back-to-back Champion once again. That made it four titles in a row for the Swiss rider, securing his place in history.
He took his final win in the 80cc class in 1988, and his final podiums in Grand Prix racing came the following year in the same class when he was also runner up in the Championship. His final season of competition was 1990, making it an incredible career spanning 18 seasons in which he took a total of 18 Grand Prix wins.
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports: “I was director of the Jarama circuit when he was winning all these titles. I was joking with him, in Spain, Dörflinger is very similar to Goldfinger, so he’s the first rider who has a song!
“It’s very important to realise that all the success of MotoGP now is thanks to people like Stefan, who create the legend, and were able to do what they did. But they are with the same passion and interests and skills to be the best rider in the world. I remember his battles with Angel Nieto and others, he was a very strong rider and dominant during these four years. It’s a big pleasure for me, personally, but also for all of Dorna to induct Stefan as a MotoGP Legend.”
Stefan Dörflinger: “It’s a lot different to 30 years ago. So much bigger. So much more professional. A great memory is when I won in Jarama, in front of Martinez at his home Grand Prix. I was very surprised when I was asked! I see all these MotoGP riders and there’s just Angel Nieto from the smaller classes.
“Since then, the biggest thing that changed are the parts; the suspension, the brakes. Everybody wants to be the fastest, so they push the parts to the limits. Now the riders train much harder and are much more professional to be on the bikes.”
Dörflinger 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, Alex Crivillé, Franco Uncini, Marco Lucchinelli, Randy Mamola, Kork Ballington, Dani Pedrosa and the late Nicky Hayden.