Maverick Vinales’ win at the 2017 MotoGP season opening race at Losail circuit in Qatar also marks another record been achieved – the Spaniard is the first Arai-sponsored rider to win race and leading the championship since American rider Nicky Hayden in 2006. All other world champions from 2007 till 2016 are not an Arai helmet rider. Arai riders won four races in 2016 – with Dani Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow and Vinales but they were not leading the championship standings.
Since American Freddie Spencer won his maiden 500cc championship in 1983, the other Arai riders who won the title were Australian Michael Doohan from 1994-1998, American Kenny Roberts Junior in 2000 and Hayden in 2006. Doohan’s compatriot Wayne Gardner, the 1987 500cc world champion, wore Shoei. Roberts Senior was also an Arai helmet rider when he won his triple titles from 1979-1981.
American rider Eddie Lawson, who won the 500cc title for Yamaha in 1984, 1986, 1988 and for Honda in 1989, was a Shoei-sponsored rider. Compatriot Wayne Rainey, world champion from 1990-92, was also a Shoei-sponsored rider. Same goes for Spaniard Alex Criville, the 1999 500cc world champion, riding for Repsol Honda.
When Valentino Rossi clinched the last 500cc championship in 2001, he was the the first ever rider to win the premier class title wearing an AGV helmet. All his premier class titles were won wearing AGV helmets of various designs. He is still an AGV-sponsored rider.
Australian Casey Stoner, the 2007 and 2011 MotoGP world champion, is a Nolan-sponsored rider while Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo was a HJC-sponsored rider when he won his premier class titles in 2010, 2012 and 2015 before switching to Shark helmet for ongoing 2016-2018 seasons. The reigning MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez is a Shoei-sponsored rider since his 125cc days.