Bike racing families: Marquez, Doohan, Dunlop and more

Bike racing has been awash with closely related riders over the years, with some even managing to share podiums in the highest echelons of the sport

Bike racing families: Marquez, Doohan, Dunlop and more

The first brothers to do this at the top level were Juan Carlos Salatino and Eduardo Salatino at the Argentine 500cc Grand Prix in 1962, with the siblings finishing second and third behind winner Benedicto Caldarella.

The only other time this feat has been achieved was at the City of Imola Grand Prix in 1997, when Nobuatsu Aoki and Takuma Aoki again finished second and third, this time behind Mick Doohan as the Australian cruised to the fourth of his five world titles.
Of course, Mick isn’t the only Doohan to have made a mark in the world of motorsport, and there are a number of famous names that are attached to more than one rider from the same family.

Alex Marquez, Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, MotoGP Sepang test 2020

Alex Marquez, Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, MotoGP Sepang test 2020

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Marc Marquez & Alex Marquez (Brothers)

Perhaps the most recognisable in the present day are the Marquez brothers. Marc hardly needs any introduction, with six MotoGP titles to his name and championship wins in Moto2 and the 125cc class as well. Having made 128 MotoGP starts so far in his career, he has appeared on the podium 95 times, equating to a 74% success rate.

Of those 95, 56 of those have been race wins, and he’d surely have racked up even more by now if it wasn’t for a prolonged absence caused by a broken arm at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2020. Chasing a fifth straight title and his seventh in MotoGP, he attempted to ride again just days after surgery, but ended up aggravating the injury to such an extent that he missed the remainder of the season.

As this was unfolding, younger brother Alex Marquez was making his step up to MotoGP as Marc’s team-mate at Honda. The brothers competed together for just 22 laps before the reigning champion’s injury in Jerez, leaving Alex - a Moto3 and Moto2 champion in 2014 and 2019 respectively - to lead the team, scoring Honda’s only podiums of the campaign with a brace of seconds at the French and Aragon GPs.

Luca Marini, Valentino Rossi, MotoGP 2020

Luca Marini, Valentino Rossi, MotoGP 2020

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Valentino Rossi & Luca Marini (Half-brothers)

Valentino Rossi is another figure who transcends MotoGP. The Italian rider is a seven-time champion and in 354 race starts he has been on the podium 199 times, winning 89 races since the beginning of his career in the premier class in 2000. Prior to his graduation he was a champion in 125cc and 250cc categories too.

Rossi’s maternal half-brother Luca Marini - 19 years his junior - has shown promise in the early stages of his racing career, competing in five full seasons of Moto2 between 2016 and 2020. Last season he finished second in the standings to compatriot Enea Bastianini, and his progress has earned him a ride in MotoGP with Avintia having signed up with Ducati for 2021. When the new season gets underway in Qatar in March, it will be the first time that Rossi and Marini will have shared track space together competitively.

Pol Espargaro, Aleix Espargaro, Valencia MotoGP 2020

Pol Espargaro, Aleix Espargaro, Valencia MotoGP 2020

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Pol Espargaro & Aleix Espargaro (Brothers)

Assuming Marc Marquez recovers sufficiently to race in 2021, Pol and Aleix Espargaro will make it three sets of brothers competing in MotoGP this season.

Pol was Moto2 champion in 2013, making his step up to MotoGP the following year with Tech3. A consistent finisher, Pol switched to KTM’s new factory team in 2017 and earned his maiden podium a year later, although 2020 was his breakthrough season: he finished on the podium five times in the shortened campaign, finishing fifth in the standings - his best result to date.

Brother Aleix is two years older, although he hasn’t seen quite as much success as his younger sibling. He raced Hondas with various teams in the 125cc class and then Aprilias in 250cc, before making his MotoGP debut with Pramac in 2009.

A full-time ride arrived a year later, and he’s been an ever-present figure in the premier class ever since, with the exception of one season in Moto2 in 2011. Having since raced with Aspar, Forward Racing, Suzuki and Aprilia in MotoGP, Aleix has managed just one podium finish so far; second at the Aragon GP in 2014. He’s qualified on pole position twice: once at Assen and once in Barcelona.

Leon Haslam, Ron Haslam, World Superbike testing 2019

Leon Haslam, Ron Haslam, World Superbike testing 2019

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Ron Haslam & Leon Haslam (Father & son)

Ron Haslam had a successful racing career spanning the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, with the British rider winning the British TT Formula One title in 1979 and 1982, the MCN British Streetbike title in 1981 and the ITV World of Sport Superbike series in 1984.

As well as winning two world titles in the form of the TT Formula One crown in 1979 and TT Formula Three championship a year later, Haslam also prevailed in the Macau GP a record six times and tasted victory at the Isle of Man TT too. To cap it all off, he amassed 107 Grand Prix starts, finishing on the podium nine times.

Clearly the knack for bike racing was hereditary, as Ron’s son Leon has since developed a successful career of his own. A British Superbike champion with Bournemouth Kawasaki in 2018, Leon has won 46 races from his 192 starts in the series to date, and has regularly challenged for podiums and wins in the World Superbike Championship riding Ducatis, Hondas, Suzukis, BMWs and Aprilias over the years. In 2010 he was runner-up to Max Biaggi, which remains his best finish in the championship.

Michael Dunlop, Goodwood Revival 2016

Michael Dunlop, Goodwood Revival 2016

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Joey Dunlop, Robert Dunlop, Michael Dunlop & William Dunlop (Brothers, Sons/Nephews)

The Dunlop family is arguably motorsport’s greatest dynasty, although few others have known as much tragedy. It began with Joey Dunlop, whose 26 victories at the Isle of Man TT - including three hat-tricks in 1985, 1988 and 2000 respectively - is still a record.
He won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times in the space of 20 years, and won the Formula TT championship five times in a row between 1982 and 1986. Sadly he lost his life in a 125cc race in Estonia in 2000 at the age of 48.

Joey’s brother Robert Dunlop also raced on the Isle of Man, contesting 23 TTs and winning five of them, recovering from a career-threatening crash in 1994 and eventually racking up 15 wins at the North West 200, a record in 2006. However, Robert lost his life at the event in 2008 after a crash in practice.

Remarkably his son Michael won the opening race of the North West 200 just two days later, dedicating the victory to his late father. Now with 19 TT wins to his name, Michael is now third on the all-time list behind John McGuinness (23) and his uncle Joey. He was the first man to set a lap time below 17 minutes on the Snaefell Mountain Course, setting an average speed of 133mph in the Senior TT in 2016.

Michael’s brother William was also a TT regular, earning a handful of podium finishes. However his life was tragically cut short after a crash at the Skerries 100 in 2018, aged just 32. He, Joey and Robert Dunlop are buried together near Garryduff Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Nicky Hayden, Imola World Superbikes 2017

Nicky Hayden, Imola World Superbikes 2017

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Nicky Hayden, Roger Lee Hayden & Tommy Hayden (Brothers)

Nicky Hayden was MotoGP champion in 2006, breaking Valentino Rossi’s five-year winning streak while riding for Honda. Hayden’s career at the top had begun in 2003 with the Japanese outfit, with whom he secured the vast majority of his 28 podium finishes over a 13-year career.

Remarkably for a world champion he only won three GPs - including two in his title-winning year - with limited success following his switch to Ducati in 2009. He also raced in the World Superbike Championship, collecting his sole win with the Ten Kate Honda team in Malaysia in 2016. The US rider surely would have gone on to achieve more, but he was killed in a collision with a vehicle while riding his bike in Italy in 2017 aged just 35.

Both of Nicky’s brothers - Roger Lee and Tommy - raced bikes, with the three siblings all appearing on the podium together at the Springfield TT in 2001. Roger Lee made one-off appearances in MotoGP in 2007 and 2010, and was Supersport champion in the former of those years. Tommy Hayden was AMA Supersport champion in 2004 and 2005, with Roger Lee finishing as runner-up in both years.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, Kenny Roberts Sr, Kenny Roberts Jr

Carmelo Ezpeleta, Kenny Roberts Sr, Kenny Roberts Jr

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Kenny Roberts, Kenny Roberts Junior & Kurtis Roberts (Father & Son/Brothers)

Kenny Roberts boasts one of the highest win rates of any rider in the history of grand prix racing, starting 60 grands prix between 1974 and 1983, winning 24 of them. Two of these victories came in the 250cc class, while the rest were achieved in the 500cc category. He won the 500cc championship in his rookie 1978 season, becoming the first American title winner, and defended his title in 1979 and 1980. By the end of his career he’d accrued 44 podium finishes and started on pole on 22 occasions. Roberts was also famous for revolutionising the way in which a two-stroke 500cc bike was ridden.

His son, Kenny Roberts Jr went on to emulate him in 2000, pipping Valentino Rossi to the 500cc crown with Suzuki. The runner-up the previous year, Roberts Jr collected eight victories in the two seasons either side of the millennium, and although he continued in MotoGP until mid-way through 2007, he only stepped onto the podium a handful more times.

His younger brother (and son of Kenny Sr) raced both grand prix and Superbike categories between 1997 and 2007, starting 34 MotoGP races but never finishing higher than 12th. The brothers briefly raced together in their own privateer team in 2007, with Kenny racing on a wildcard prior to replacing his brother altogether for the remainder of the season. This was the last time siblings had raced for the same team until the Marquez brothers did the same in 2020.

Mick Doohan, Thailand MotoGP 2018

Mick Doohan, Thailand MotoGP 2018

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Mick Doohan and Scott Doohan (Brothers)

Mick Doohan is another legend of bike racing, with the Australian crowned world champion five times on the spin between 1994 and 1998. To date, only Giacomo Agostini, Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez have won more titles in the premier class.

Mick made four starts riding for Marlboro Yamaha Dealer Team in the Superbike World Championship in 1988, winning three of those and finishing 12th in the championship despite not appearing in 14 races of the 18-event season. His 500cc career began with Honda in 1989, and he remained there until his retirement in 1999 following an accident at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Mick’s brother Scott also raced bikes, making one 500cc start in 1994 and contesting a number of Superbike World Championship races between 1989 and 1992.

Giacomo Agostini, MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix 2017

Giacomo Agostini, MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix 2017

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Giacomo Agostini & Felice Agostini (Brothers)

Giacomo Agostini is the most successful bike rider of all time statistically, winning the 500cc championship eight times between 1968 and 1975 (including seven in a row), as well as winning the 350cc championship seven times consecutively from 1968 onwards. Of his 223 starts, he won 122 races and ended up on the podium 159 times, setting 117 fastest laps. This included a remarkable period between 1968 and 1971 when he won every race - in both classes - bar four, from which he retired.

If that wasn’t enough he contested the Isle of Man TT eight times and was victorious in 10 events, won seven races at the Ulster Grand Prix, and even raced Formula 1 cars in non-championship events for a brief spell at the end of the 1970s.

Giacomo’s brother Felice Agostini also dabbled in bike racing, starting a handful of grands prix across 125cc, 250cc and 350cc classes between 1975 and 1978. His best result came at the Spanish Grand Prix in his final year competing, finishing fifth on a Morbidelli.

Carlose Checa, World Superbikes 2013

Carlose Checa, World Superbikes 2013

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Carlos Checa & David Checa (Brothers)

Carlos Checa was a Spanish rider whose crowning achievement came in 2011 in the World Superbike Championship. Racing a factory Ducati for Althea Racing, Checa won 15 races from 26 starts en route to the title that year, finishing on the podium a further six times. He was also a regular fixture on the podium in the top tier of grand prix racing between 1993 and 2007, winning two races and finishing a career best fourth in the standings in 1998.

Meanwhile his younger brother, David Checa, followed in his footsteps by racing in the World Superbike Championship and briefly in MotoGP in 2005, however his greatest successes have come in the World Motorcycle Endurance Championship, where he was crowned champion in 2004, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

Maverick Vinales, Yamaha Factory Racing

Maverick Vinales, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Maverick Vinales & Isaac Vinales (Cousins)

We could well see three sets of brothers compete in MotoGP in 2021, but what chance of some cousins appearing on the grid as well? Maverick Vinales - Moto3 champion in 2013 - has competed in the premier class for the past six seasons, collecting eight wins and dozens of podiums so far. He’s twice finished third in the standings, doing so in 2017 and 2019.

Maverick is the cousin of Isaac Vinales, who is a little more than a year older. A podium finisher in Moto3, he stepped up to Moto2 in 2016, but didn’t make the impact needed to graduate further to the top level. In 2019 and 2020 he raced for Kallio Racing in the World Supersport Championship, with a second-place finish at Magny-Cours his best result to date. Isaac will race in WSBK in 2021, so a MotoGP debut alongside Maverick looks out of the question.

Eugene Laverty, World Superbikes 2020

Eugene Laverty, World Superbikes 2020

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Michael Laverty, Eugene Laverty & John Laverty (Brothers)

Irishman Michael Laverty was British Supersport champion in 2007, and won British Superbike Championship races for Relentless Suzuki, Swan Yamaha and Samsung Honda between 2010 and 2012. He got a shot at a MotoGP career in 2013 with Paul Bird Motorsport, however his two-year stint only yielded four lots of points.

Michael’s brother Eugene - five years his junior - has seen a little more success in his career. His own two-year stint in MotoGP began in 2015 with the Aspar Team, which switched from running Hondas to Ducatis for 2016. He was a regular point-scorer in his second season, narrowly missing out on a podium in the second round in Argentina. Prior to that he was a two-time runner-up in the World Supersport Championship in 2009 and 2010, and again a runner-up in the World Superbike Championship in 2013.

John Laverty is the third Laverty brother to have made a living from racing, competing in the British Superbike Championship between 2008 and 2012 before going into management as Eugene’s manager.

Christian Sarron, Yamaha

Christian Sarron, Yamaha

Photo by: Yamaha

Christian Sarron & Dominique Sarron (Brothers)

Christian Sarron was a grand prix rider from France whose premier class career spanned 11 years from 1979 until 1990. Racing sporadically in 250cc, 350cc and 500cc for his first few seasons, he eventually secured a full-time ride with Sonauto Gauloises-Yamaha in 1983.

Finishing second in the standings, he went one better the following year, winning three races and securing five additional podiums on his way to the title. The success helped him graduate to 500cc permanently thereafter, where he made regular visits to the podium, including one appearance on the top step at the German GP in 1985.

His younger brother also forged a career from grand prix racing, but didn’t hit quite the same heights. He spent four years in the 250cc class with Rothmans-Honda France between 1985 and 1988, winning four races and finishing third in the standings in his second season. Two 500cc campaigns followed in 1989 and 1992 (separated with a drop back down to 250cc), although his best result was a ninth place finish with Banco-Yamaha in his final year.

Dominique won the Suzuka 8 Hours in 1986 and 1989, and later contested the World Superbike Championship in 1993. In 1994 he joined forces with his brother and Yasutomo Nagai for the 24-hour Bol d’Or at Magny-Cours, which they won.

Alex Lowes, Sam Lowes, World Superbikes 2018

Alex Lowes, Sam Lowes, World Superbikes 2018

Photo by: Gold and Goose

Sam Lowes & Alex Lowes (Brothers)

Born in Lincolnshire, the Lowes brothers are the only identical twins on this list. Sam made his debut in the British Supersport Championship in 2010, taking the title the following year in a campaign that included five race wins and saw the GNS Racing rider finish off the podium just twice all year. He moved up to the World Superpsort Championship in 2011, and impressive consistency over the following seasons saw him crowned champion in 2013 with Yakhnich Motorsport.

Sam’s focus has been on grand prix racing since then, spending three seasons in Moto2 either side of a single year in MotoGP with Aprilia. In 2020 he won three consecutive races in Moto2 for the first time, finishing third in the standings.

Brother Alex’s path has been different, with fewer opportunities in grand prix racing. He made a one-off appearance in the 125cc class mid-way through 2006, and stood in for the injured Bradley Smith for three rounds of the 2016 MotoGP season with Tech3.

He claimed the British Superbike Championship title in 2013, stepping up to the World Superbike Championship the following year. He has scored multiple podiums and a couple of race wins since then, with a best finish of third in the standings in 2019. Elsewhere he is a three-time winner of the Suzuka 8 Hours, riding for Yamaha’s factory team on each occasion.

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