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2 + 4 = Success | 10 two-wheel racers who also liked four wheels on their wagon

BMW Motorsport

Do not adjust your TV sets, yes that is a machine with *shudder* two more wheels on its wagon than you’re used to seeing on BSN but we assure you it is for a good reason… promise!

The news that Sylvain Guintoli will begin gravitating towards four-wheel racing will see him join an exclusive handful of riders who tackled some of the world’s most prestigious events both with and without a roof.

The WorldSBK Champion is beginning his quest to become the first person to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans on a bike and in a car. 


Having already achieved the feat on two-wheels in the Endurance World Championship, Guintoli will warm up for his new tilt with a stint in the European Le Mans Cup with British outfit Steller Motorsport with a view to getting on the grid in the LMP2 class for 2025.

While success in this endeavour would see him make history, he is not the first rider to make the transition to four-wheels - but if he makes a success of it, he will at least join an illustrious lineage of figures who made it work with two and four wheels on their wagon.

You can take the racer off the bike, but you can’t take the racer out of racing…

John Surtees

No compilation of two and four wheel achievements can start with any person other than the extraordinary John Surtees.

The British racing hero is a legend of mammoth proportions for his achievements in winning not only a top tier motorcycle grand prix world championship, but going on to achieve the feat in Formula 1 too.

While it is his achievements on four wheels - namely winning the 1964 F1 World Championship with Ferrari - that earned him broader notoriety, it was on two wheels where the fearsome Brit was at  his most devastatingly impressive.

A six-time World Champion at the highest-level, Surtees clinched four of his titles in the premier 500GP class and won 38 grands prix in total, setting himself up nicely for his transition to F1 that would complement his 1964 F1 title with eight victories against some of the greats in sporting history.

More than that though, Surtees would also claim six wins on the Isle of Man TT and achieve a podium finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours with Ferrari in the same year as his F1 title win.


It’s likely no-one in the history of time will ever come close to matching his gargantuan feat. Few icons - in motorsport or across sport in general - can stand up to one John Surtees.

Mike Hailwood

He’s affectionately named ‘Mike The Bike’, but Mike Hailwood showed great promise as a four-wheel racer once he’d cleaned up on two wheels.

One of the few riders to make the successful transition from motorcycle grand prix racing to Formula 1, Hailwood won nine two-wheel world championships - including four consecutive 500GP titles - during a truly dominant spell in the 60s that saw him win 76 of the 152 grands prix he entered across the classes.

It was during the height of his success that Hailwood gravitated towards four-wheel action, getting to dovetail his two-wheel commitments with occasional outings straight into F1 between 1963 and 1965 - plus a podium winning appearance at the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours - before making the full transition to F1 in 1971.


While success didn’t come quickly for Hailwood - save for a run at the European F2 title in 1972, fittingly with Team Surtees - he was on the podium at Monza in the same year, a feat he repeated again in 1974 at Kyalami. However, just as he was hitting his stride, a serious injury at the Nurburgring later that year led to his decision to retire from the sport altogether.

Of course, this didn’t hold for long with Hailwood back and competing at the TT in 1978, where he famously achieved a victory on his comeback, one of 14 he’d achieve on the Manx isle during his illustrious career.

Valentino Rossi

Like him or loathe him, there is no denying Valentino Rossi isn’t up for a challenge regardless of whether he’s on two wheels, four wheels, maybe even three if things have gone a bit Pete Tong.

Of course, Rossi circa. 2024 is all about the four-wheel exploits as he continues to make his name in GT racing. It’s an endeavour that is going well too, Rossi enjoying a solid debut season with Team WRT at the wheel of an Audi R8 in 2022 before going on to enjoy a race-winning turn alongside Maxime Martin in 2023 with the same team following its switch to BMW machinery. He starts the 2024 GT World Challenge season as a title favourite.

Prior to this though, Rossi’s star has taken him all the way to various different motorsport disciplines.

His F1 tests with Ferrari - in 2004, 2006 and 2008 - were a precursor to genuine discussions that could have seen him leave MotoGP for a career in four-wheels in a similar manner as Surtees and Hailwood. With discussions reportedly going as far as negotiating a drive with the Minardi F1 team for 2005.

Though he’d think better of it - and go on to win three more MotoGP titles - Rossi kept his hand in four-wheel action with outings in the World Rally Championship, scoring a best result of 11th from three starts.

Amid all of his GT efforts, like the aforementioned Guintoli, there might well be a good chance Rossi will have a crack at the Le Mans 24 Hours in future. His Team WRT will compete in the endurance classic as collaborative partner for BMW’s big comeback to the event in 2024, which might well pave the way for Rossi to be included in one of its driver line-ups either this year or in future.

Wayne Gardner

While he may have become disillusioned with motorcycle racing, 1987 500GP World Champion Wayne Gardner wasn’t about to retire when he hung up his leathers at the end of the 1992.

Instead, he ventured off on a rite of passage for any Australian racer worth his salt by giving the hyper competitive and popular V8 Supercars series a crack straight away in 1993.

Splitting his time between Australia and Japan competing in its national GT series, while Gardner wasn't quite as devastating on four wheels as he was on two - and earning the nickname 'Captain Chaos' are several run-ins with rivals - he was a competitive addition to both series'.

He scored a single win in Australia in 1997, but enjoyed more success in Japan where he was twice a race winner and took to the podium on five occasions.

Johnny Cecotto

There is a strong argument for suggesting Johnny Cecotto was a 500GP World Champion in the making after taking the sport by storm by winning the 350cc title on his international debut in 1975 at the age of 19.

Thereafter Cecotto remained a force in 350cc and went on to win three 500GP races during a short career that spanned just six seasons. However, persistent injuries would plague the youngster, prompting him to make the decision to ditch two wheels for four while he was still only 24-years old.

He enjoyed immediate success in Formula 2, finishing runner-up in 1982 - ahead of future F1 race winner Thierry Boutsen - which preceded a move into F1 for 1983, where he scored on only his second start for the Theodore Racing team.

However, it was in touring cars where Cecotto fortune would lie, becoming a loyal BMW driver where he'd go on to finish runner-up in the hugely competitive (and big name) DTM in 1990, win the German domestic title, finish runner-up in Italy and also briefly compete in the BTCC.

Eddie Lawson

It's a credit to Eddie Lawson that when he decided to steer away from two-wheels - where he'd been a four-time 500GP World Champion - in favour of a switch to open-wheel racing, he didn't just leverage his high-profile to jump the queue straight into the United States' premier series of the day, CART.

Instead, he chose to cut his teeth in the discipline in the supporting Indy Lights series normally reserved for up-and-coming youngsters looking to impress the big teams under the noses on the same programme.

The strategy worked a treat though, Lawson scoring a win en route to fourth in the overall standings for what was his first full season in the series.

It earned him a ticket straight to CART driving the Galles Racing Lola, where he didn't disgrace himself and even scored a best result of sixth place on his first appearance in the Indianapolis 500. It's a shame then that the 1996 CART/Indy season was to be his first and his last as he ventured off into a proper retirement thereafter.

Barry Sheene

The UK's last 500/MotoGP World Champion may have enjoyed an illustrious - and well documented - career on two-wheels but upon retiring from the limelight on the world stage, Barry Sheen continued to get his racing kicks in the British Saloon Car Championship (the precursor to today's BTCC).

Driving a Toyota Celica Supra in the leading 'A division', while Sheene couldn't charm his way to the upper echelons during his one full season in 1985, he did pick up two podiums - perhaps fittingly at the UK's most eye-popping venues at Thruxton and Silverstone.

Aaron Slight

After experiencing the high-octane rigours of WorldSBK racing during the 90s, during which he became a firm fan favourite even if he didn't quite notch up that elusive title, the rather more sedate surroundings of the British Touring Car Championship must have come as something of a culture shock for Aaron Slight.

The Kiwi walked away from motorcycle racing at the end of the 2000 WorldSBK season before popping up in the UK rather surprisingly with a one-off outing in BTCC driving a lurid Peugeot 406 Coupe, where he impressed with a top ten finish fresh out of the box.

That led to a full season in 2002, albeit in the humble surroundings of the very privateer Barwell Motorsport team driving a Vauxhall Astra Coupe. And yet, Slight belied his lack of intimate knowledge for much of the UK's quirky venues to challenge for the Independents title.

In the end, much like WorldSBK, Slight would be forced to settle for second best - to the tune of just three points - but at least had the satisfaction of defeating BTCC Champion Tim Harvey, future WTCC race winning team-mate Tom Chilton and even a young Colin Turkington - the force of the BTCC in recent years - just starting out in touring cars racing for, ahem, Team Atomic Kitten. Yep, really.

Didier de Radigues

The quietly impressive Didier de Radigues may not have walked away with a Grand Prix world title, but he was a race winner in the 250cc and 350cc classes and held his own against a litany of the sport's legends in the premier class during his time on two-wheels. He was also a Macau Grand Prix winner.

However, while a handful of those rivals would go on to compete on four-wheels with moderate success, de Radigues carved out a very successful secondary career in sports cars right through to the Millennium.

While he endured a fairy torrid time competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours, de Radigues was trusted enough to compete in the premier LMP class - even teaming up with Wayne Gardner for one tilt - and he'd go on to take a title win in the American Le Mans Series and also in his domestic Belgian Procar Championship too.

Gregg Hansford

Gregg Hansford may have been in Grand Prix racing for a short time but it was at least a successful one. In just two seasons of competition, he notched up a second or third in his four appearances in the 250cc and 350cc class.

However, it was all we'd get to see of the Australian on two wheels before he'd switch to four, where he'd go on to establish himself as a force of touring car racing, peaking with two victories alongside the legendary Larry Perkins at the famed Bathurst 1000.

Honourable Mentions

John McGuinness

Everyone knows John McGuinness would race a BMX if it had an engine attached to it, so it's fitting that our McPint has now and again deviated from two-wheels to race on four gigantic ones in 2023 as part of the British Truck Racing Championship.

A big departure from what he is used to, McGuinness made the most of having a seat back by showing strongly during a one-off outing at Donington Park, scoring a top five finish in his monster Scania.

Michael Schumacher

The debate over who the greatest F1 driver of all time will rage until the very end of, well, time, but what can't be denied is the gumption of Michael Schumacher as the only rider to actually go the other way from four to two wheels.

A much more difficult transition to make than the other riders-turned-drivers here, massive respect for Schumacher to follow his passion during his first retirement and even go as far as attempt a stint in the German domestic IDM Superbike. While he endured a struggle, Schumacher was committed to the cause on his Honda, even if a crash did ultimately leave him with a lingering shoulder injury that'd call time on his two-wheel endeavour and turn his attention back to F1.

Dishonourable Mention

Casey Stoner

While Casey Stoner made it seem very clear he wasn't planning a racing comeback after retiring from MotoGP at the age of 27, he somewhat inevitably did make a brief foray into four-wheel racing in the V8 Supercars series, albeit in the second tier Dunlop development series.

Alas, it was not a happy endeavour for the two-time MotoGP World Champion and he struggled to get a grip on his Holden Commodore despite having the might of Red Bull and crack team Triple Eight Engineering in his corner. A best result of fifth place would come in a disappointing single season before Stoner decided he was probably better suited to two-wheels and/or a sofa...

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