One of the world's top motor cycle racers, Italy's Giacomo Agostini, has announced his retirement from the sport.
CU PAN OUT TO GV OF: Rider and Yamaha motorcycles being tested in Japan.
MV: Agostini sitting on bike flanked by two other riders and machines.
MV: Agostini putting on crash helmet and preparing for test drive.
MV: Two Japanese riders on bikes.
MV: Agostini and other riders pushing bikes to start practice run PAN DOWN TRACK as riders go into distance.
GV: Agostini and other riders on test drive (FIVE SHOTS)
GV ZOOM INTO: Agostini pulling in being helped off his bike.
MV: Bikes being pushed into pits with Agostini following.
MV: Agostini walking across track.
GV: Start of 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.
GV SHOTS THROUGHOUT RACE: Agostini with clear lead and taking the victory flag. (FIVE SHOTS)
CU: Agostini with garland of honour round neck.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: One of the world's top motor cycle racers, Italy's Giacomo Agostini, has announced his retirement from the sport. In a statement of Thursday (22 December) in the Italian town of Bergamo, Agostini said he was leaving motorcycling with the greatest regrets.
SYNOPSIS: The motor cycling career of Giacomo Agostini spans 16 years, but for the last four, his name has been inseparable from Japanese bikes, particularly those made by Yamaha.
The 35-year-old Italian whose good looks made him the idol of thousands of women during his winning years, rode his first motorcycle when he was eight. At 19 he was discovered by Court Demenico Augusta, a wealthy motorcycle manufacturer.
In this Count's team, Agostini paired up with the top British rider, Mike Hailwood, who was then accumulating a record of nine world titles. Agostini, however, did as well as his team mate, and went on to shatter Hailwood's record with wins in 13 world championships.
In 1973 Agostini left Agusta and joined Yamaha, whose machines he got to test ride in Japan. Two years later he gave the Japanese manufacturer their first senior title by winning the world crown on one of their 500s.
Recently, though, Agostini has been losing his winning touch despite successes last year at Assen and Hurbugring.
But recent failure have not affected Agostini's reputation. As the winner of fifteen world titles, he is regarded as one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time. And authorities on the sport are now saying that it is unlikely that anyone will ever best his record on the motorcycle circuit.
One of the Agostini's last great races was in 1975 at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Even from early on in the race, the Italian rider's skill was evident and he was soon clearly in the lead.
In the past Agostini has said that he would pull out of motorcycle racing when he was afraid. But there was no hint of fear in his announcement that he was retiring. In fact, he said he would be taking up another dangerous sport...that of motor racing.
And winning, will still be important to Giacomo Agostini.