THE TEN WINNINGEST HONDA CHAMPIONS
#1 Jeremy McGrath
Jeremy Mcgrath has more wins atop a Honda than any other champion. While McGrath has won on both his Yamaha and Suzuki, his most memorable years were aboard his CR250. He even earned his first professional win on a Kawasaki. Over his career, he has amassed 10 championships with seven of them in the Supercross 250 class. Out of the 10 championships, six were won on a Honda; Two in the 125 class and four in the 250 class. Showtime also has a staggering 72 combined wins from both his Supercross and National series just aboard the Honda machine. In 1996, McGrath had a near perfect season. He won every race except St. Louis where Suzuki rider, Mike LaRocco held him back for the majority of the race. Kawasaki rider Jeff Emig was able to hold onto first after a great start and take the win.
#2 Rick Johnson
Between the Nationals, Supercross and the World Grand Prixes, Rick Johnson has the second most wins on a Honda. Icing for the cake, Johnson also has three MXON team wins while he was piloting the red bike. Like Jeremy McGrath, he is in possession of six championships. He also won 53 career races on the Honda. The native Californian had started his career on a Yamaha before switching to Honda in 1986. Johnson was no stranger to victory, having already won the 1984 AMA National in the 250 class before he switched to Honda. Of his Honda championships, two were in the 500 class and four in the 250 class.
#3 Ricky Carmichael
Ricky Carmichael isn’t called the GOAT for no reason. The Floridian was able to amass 51 wins on his Honda in the three years he rode the Japanese brand. How did he do it? By completing a perfect season in the AMA Nationals during the 2002 season. He would repeat a perfect season in 2004. Of the six championships he competed atop a Honda, he won five of them. Let’s not forget he made his transition from a two-stroke to a four-stroke during these years. Carmichael first tried the CRF450 in 2004. Carmichael would continue to win championships once he left Honda for Suzuki in 2005.
#4 Jeff Stanton
Only three riders have completed six championships on a Honda. Jeremy McGrath, Rick Johnson and Jeff Stanton. While the other two only won both the Supercross and AMA National title once in the same year (on a Honda), Stanton did it three times. In 1989, 1990, and 1992. Of his 41 wins with the brand, 17 were in Supercross, 20 were in the AMA Nationals and four were taken in the World GP’s. Like Johnson, Stanton had previously ridden Yamaha. In 1988, a year before Johnson, he switched to Honda and never looked back.
#5 Jean-Michel Bayle
While the top four have won both Supercross and AMA National championships, Jean-Michel Bayle has the distinction of also winning in the WorldGrand Prix championships. He would win it in 1988 and 1989. The result is five championships in three different series. All while riding a Honda. Of those five championships, three are in the 250 class, one is in the 125 class and one in the 500 class. Bayle has amassed a total of 40 wins on the red machine. Oddly enough, he didn’t garner any wins in his 1991 250 National championship. He however did make the podium seven times.
#6 David Bailey
David Bailey entered 1983 without a single professional win in either Supercross or the AMA Nationals. With the 1982 Supercross 250 champion Donnie Hanson out with an injury, the field was wide open for a successor. Bob Hannah, Danny Chandler and Broc Glover were among the racers Bailey would face at Anaheim One. On that January evening, Bailey would win the first race of the season, edging out Broc Glover late in the race. He would go on to win 32 races, three 250 championships and one 500 championship with Honda. To add to his career he also was on the winning Motocross des Nations team, five years in a row from 1982 to 1986.
#7 André Malherbe
So far all of the riders have had one thing in common, they have competed and won in a USA championship. André Malherbe hasn’t garnered a single win in the two dominant US series. The closest the Belgian came to winning on US soil was in 1986. He won the Canadian GP round in Chatsworth, Ontario (Canada) that year. In his GP career, André amassed 27 wins on his CR500 two-stroke. He would win his first championship in 1980 and defend the title in 1981. Malherbe still had unfinished work. In 1984 he was able to clinch his third and final title in the series. While André only won in the 500 class on a Honda, he also had 11 125 class wins atop the German Belgique Zündapp in 1973 and 1974. Before he moved up to the 500 class, he would also won on a KTM in 1977 in Germany. By the end of his career he had amassed 41 total wins in the Grand Prix series.
#8 Marty Smith
Marty Smith is among the pioneers of American motocross. He first popped up on the score-sheets in 1974. Marty won the first 125 National championship. While the 1974 125 class only had four races, Marty won two of them and placed second in the other two. A year later he would come back to defend his championship. This was in spite of the series being extended to seven races. 16 wins sounds like a small amount of wins to clinch four championships, but Smith was able to do it. Additionally he had three GP wins. Marty had 19 career wins on a Honda.
#9 Dave Thorpe
The 500 class was highly contended in the GP’s during the mid 1980’s. Jacky Martens, Jeff Leisk, Eric Geboers, Kurt Nicoll and André Malherbe all fought hard for their piece of championship pie. André Malherbe was not alone on team Honda. British rider, Dave Thorpe was also a vital part to the team’s success earning three championships and 19 wins for the brand. After a successfully racing in the UK on a Kawasaki, Thorpe joined the Grand Prix Honda Factory team in 1983. He soon emerged as a viable challenger to everyone including his teammate André Malherbe. Of Thorpe’s 22 GP wins, 19 were on the CR500. Few riders could win two races in a row. Thorpe did so on a few occasions starting in 1984 the first year he won the championship.
#10 Eric Geboers
Honda was a powerhouse team in the 1980’s. Eric Geboers is another champion to make the list. His accomplishments are 21 wins and three championships atop the Honda. Geboers started his career atop Suzuki winning his first gp race in 1980 on the Suzuki. In 1984 Geboers moved up to the 500 class to race on the Honda machine. June first 1984, Geboers took his first overall GP win in the Netherlands. While he wouldn’t win any more races that year he won two races in each of the following two years. After moving down to the 250 class in 1987, he won five races to take his first GP championship. Instead of defending his championship, “The Kid” went back to the 500 class where he clinched two championships before retiring.
#11 Doug Henry
Bonus! There is one more rider we couldn’t leave out of this list. Doug Henry. Of the four championships Doug Henry won, three were atop a Honda. Like quite a few riders, Henry had started his career on a Yamaha. Henry experienced moderate success in the first few years racking up a handful of podiums and a win. Henry switched to the Honda machine in 1993. He would sweep the 125 East Supercross and AMA Nationals that year. By the time he switched back to Yamaha in 1996, Henry had 15 wins on the Honda and three championships. Doug would win his last championship in 1998 atop a Yamaha.