23 Best Motorcycle Racers in France of All Time

James Hillier

France is home to some of the world’s most legendary motorcycle racers. From the iconic road racing heroes of the past to the modern-day MotoGP stars, France has produced a long line of champions who have left an indelible mark on the sport.

From Raymond Roche to Olivier Jacque, the list of French motorcycle greats is an impressive one. Here, we take a look at some of the greatest riders France has ever produced.

1. Fabio Quartararo


Fabio Alain Quartararo is a French Grand Prix motorcycle rider who is currently competing in the MotoGP World Championship for the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team.

Nicknamed El Diablo, Quartararo has made history by becoming the first French rider to win the MotoGP World Championship.

This historic achievement came in 2021 when Quartararo managed to beat his fellow competitors to the top spot and secure the title. Quartararo’s success is even more impressive considering the fact that he only made his MotoGP debut in 2019.

In his first two years, Quartararo quickly made a name for himself as a highly talented rider, consistently finishing in the top ten in the standings.

In 2021, Quartararo was able to take his racing to the next level and became the first French rider to win the MotoGP World Championship. Despite his young age, Quartararo has already made a huge impact in the world of MotoGP.

His victory in 2021 has opened the door for other French riders to dream of becoming World Champions, and Quartararo is sure to be a major influence and inspiration for future generations of French riders.

With his incredible talent and determination, there is no doubt that Quartararo will be remembered for years to come.

2. Johann Zarco


Johann Zarco is a French professional motorcycle racer who currently competes in MotoGP for Pramac Racing. He is best known for his remarkable achievements in the Moto2 class, where he won the World Championships in 2015 and 2016.

His 2015 triumph was particularly impressive, as he set a record points total for the intermediate class. Zarco has since continued to excel in MotoGP, proving himself to be one of the most talented riders in the sport.

His skill and determination have seen him become a regular contender for podium finishes, and it is highly likely that he will go on to achieve even greater success in the future.

3. Christian Sarron


Christian Sarron is a legendary figure in the world of Grand Prix motorcycle racing. Born in France, Christian Sarron began his racing career in the early 1980s and quickly rose to prominence in the sport.

He was an incredibly talented rider and was a fierce competitor on the track.

He is best known for his impressive victories in the 500cc World Championship, as well as the 250cc Grand Prix, where he won numerous titles throughout the decade. Christian Sarron’s career highlights included a second-place finish in the 1985 500cc World Championship, as well as two third-place finishes in the same year.

His biggest win came in 1986 when he won the 250cc Grand Prix World Championship.

During his career, Christian Sarron demonstrated his skill and determination to be one of the best riders in the world.After retiring from Grand Prix racing in 1991, Christian Sarron remained active in the sport, working as a commentator and ambassador for the sport.

He is widely respected in the world of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and his legacy lives on. Today, Christian Sarron is remembered as one of the greats of the sport, and his accomplishments are still remembered with admiration.

4. Raymond Roche


Raymond Roche is a name that will forever be remembered in the world of motorcycle racing. He was a professional Grand Prix motorcycle road racer from France. Born in 1959 in Montluçon, Roche began his racing career at the tender age of 11 in local motocross competitions.

From there, he quickly rose to become a professional road racer. Roche was most successful in the 500cc class, where he won the world championship in 1989 and 1990, making him the first French rider to do so in the modern era.

He was also a consistent top ten finisher in the 250cc and 350cc classes, earning him a great deal of respect from fellow racers and fans alike. Roche was known for his aggressive riding style, which yielded him many victories.

He was also known for his willingness to take risks, which often led to spectacular crashes. Despite the setbacks, Roche was never deterred from giving it his all when it came to racing.

After retiring from professional racing in 1994, Roche went on to become a team manager and consultant. He also established a racing school in France, which helps to give aspiring riders the opportunity to learn the skills needed to compete in the Grand Prix.

Raymond Roche is a name that will forever be remembered in the world of motorcycle racing. He was an incredibly talented and passionate racer who pushed the boundaries of the sport and will be remembered fondly by fans for his courage and skill.

5. Jean-Louis Tournadre


Jean-Louis Tournadre is a renowned French former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer who hails from Clermont-Ferrand.

His impressive career began in 1982 when he won the 250cc class of the FIM World Championship title while riding a Yamaha TZ250, making him the first French rider to do so.

Tournadre had already established himself as a top rider in the French and European racing scene prior to his 1982 championship victory, having competed in the Grand Prix World Championship as early as 1975.

In addition to his 1982 championship win, he also achieved several podium finishes in the 250cc and 350cc classes throughout his career, cementing his reputation as a world-class motorcyclist.

Tournadre’s success in the world of Grand Prix motorcycle racing made him one of the most recognizable and respected French riders of his time. His impressive career led to numerous awards and accolades, including being named a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in 2007.

His lasting impact on the sport is still felt today, as his championship victory in 1982 inspired a new generation of French riders to follow in his footsteps.

6. Sylvain Guintoli


Sylvain Guintoli is a highly successful professional motorcycle racer from France. He has achieved many accolades throughout his career, most notably the FIM World Superbike Championship title in 2014.

This title is the highest title to be won in Superbike racing and is an accomplishment of which Guintoli is proud. Guintoli currently works as a test rider for the Suzuki MotoGP team, where he is also able to take part in occasional races.

These races are usually in the form of wild cards, where he is chosen to participate in a race from a group of riders, or as a replacement rider in the event of an injury or illness. Guintoli’s success as a racer and his experience in the motorcycle industry make him a valuable asset to the Suzuki MotoGP team.

His skill and determination have seen him become one of the leading motorcycle racers in the world, and he continues to make great strides as a professional in the sport.

7. Christian Estrosi


Christian Paul Gilbert Estrosi is a French politician and former professional motorcyclist. He has had a varied career, beginning as a sportsman and later becoming a prominent figure in French politics.

Estrosi is the current Mayor of Nice, having first held the office from 2008 to 2016 and then being re-elected in 2017. During this time, he served as a government minister under Presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy.

His experience in both sports and politics have enabled him to bring a unique perspective to his role as Mayor of Nice.

Estrosi is a strong advocate for the development of the city of Nice and has been instrumental in leading several major projects, such as the construction of a new tram line and the revitalization of the city’s old port.

He has also been a vocal proponent of environmental protection and has pushed for investments in green technologies. His efforts have helped to make Nice a more attractive destination for tourists, as well as an attractive place for businesses to set up operations.

Estrosi’s commitment to his city is evident in his track record as Mayor. He has ensured that public services are accessible to all citizens, regardless of their economic background, and has worked to make Nice a more inclusive and welcoming city.

He has also made sure that the city’s cultural heritage is preserved, and has worked to create a vibrant and diverse cultural scene in the city.

Christian Paul Gilbert Estrosi is a unique figure in French politics, combining his experience in both sports and politics to benefit the city of Nice.

He has been a leader in developing the city’s infrastructure and championing environmental protection, while also ensuring that public services are available to all citizens.

Estrosi’s commitment to his city is clear, and his efforts have allowed Nice to become a more attractive destination for visitors and businesses alike.

8. Jean-Claude Olivier

Jean-Claude Olivier, more commonly known as JCO, was an important figure in the French motorcycle racing scene. He was the president of the French branch of Yamaha Motor from 1992 to 2010.

During his tenure, he served as a mentor to some of the most renowned French racers in the industry, including Patrick Pons, Christian Sarron, and Stéphane Peterhansel.JCO was a passionate advocate for the sport of motorcycle racing and was committed to helping the next generation of French riders reach their full potential.

He created a platform for up-and-coming riders to showcase their talents, which in turn helped to increase the popularity of the sport in France.

He also worked closely with Yamaha Motor France to make sure that the latest bikes and technology were available to all riders, ensuring their safety and performance. In addition to his work with Yamaha, JCO was also a successful racer in his own right.

He won a number of prestigious races, including the French Superbike Championship and the Bol d’Or. His skill and competitive drive made him one of the most respected and admired riders in the field.JCO’s legacy as a mentor and racer will live on for many years to come.

His contributions to the French motorcycle racing scene will continue to be remembered and appreciated by riders and fans alike. He will always be remembered for his dedication to the sport and his commitment to helping young riders reach their full potential.

9. Éric Aubijoux

Éric Aubijoux was a French motorcycle rider who was renowned for his involvement in the Dakar Rally. The Dakar Rally is an international off-road race that takes place in Africa and South America and is considered one of the toughest races in the world.

Aubijoux had competed in the Dakar Rally six times before his death in the 2007 edition of the event.

He was the second fatality of that year’s Dakar, following the death of South African motorcyclist Elmer Symons, who had died eleven days earlier. Aubijoux’s death was a tragedy for the motorcycling community.

His impressive record of participating in the Dakar Rally six times, and the fact that he was the second fatality in the 2007 event, showed that he was a brave and fearless rider. His death was a reminder of the dangers of the Dakar Rally, and how it can be a deadly race.

It is a reminder of the risks that riders take in order to compete in such a dangerous event. Éric Aubijoux will always be remembered for his courage and dedication to the sport of motorcycling.

His death serves as a reminder of the risks that come with participating in extreme sports, and of the importance of safety when taking part in such activities.

10. Richard Sainct

Richard Sainct was a French rally raid motorcycle rider who achieved great success in his career. He is best known for his three victories on The Paris-Dakar rally, which took place in 1999, 2000 and 2003.

This rally is a famous off-road endurance race that takes place annually and is often considered to be one of the most grueling and challenging events in the world.Sainct was a famous and well-respected figure in the motorcycle racing community, and his victories in the Paris-Dakar rally further solidified his legacy.

He was a master of off-road racing, with his experience and skill setting him apart from his peers. He was also a passionate risk-taker, and his courage and determination were well-known. Sainct’s three Paris-Dakar victories were some of the greatest achievements of his career.

He was the first rider to win the event three times in a row, and his successes are still remembered and celebrated today. He was a true icon in the world of motorcycle racing, and his life and career will continue to serve as an inspiration to those who aspire to greatness.

11. Patrick Fernandez


Patrick Fernandez is a renowned French former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer who had a successful career. During his career, Fernandez achieved great success, particularly in 1979 when he finished as runner-up in the 350cc world championship, riding a Yamaha.

His performance that year proved to be a career-defining moment, as he managed to secure three Grand Prix wins throughout his career.

Fernandez’s success in 1979 earned him a respected place in the motorcycle racing world, and he is still remembered today as one of France’s top motorcycle racers.

12. Jean-Michel Bayle


Jean-Michel Bayle is a French former professional motorcycle racer widely renowned for his remarkable success in both motocross and road racing.

During his career, Bayle was widely considered to be one of the most successful riders of his era, accumulating numerous titles and accolades in both disciplines.

In motocross, Bayle won the FIM 250 World Championship in 1991 and three consecutive AMA 125cc National Championships from 1991-1993. He also won the World Grand Prix Championship in 1995, as well as FIM 250 and 500cc World Championships in 1996 and 1997.

In road racing, Bayle won the British Superbike Championship in 1989 and the All-Japan Road Race Championship in 1992. He also won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans motorcycle race in 1993.

Throughout his career, Bayle continually pushed the boundaries of motorcycle racing and was an inspiration to many aspiring riders. His success and achievements are a testament to his incredible skill and dedication to the sport.

13. Olivier Jacque


Olivier Jacque is an esteemed French former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. Born in the small town of Roncq, France, Jacque began his professional racing career in 1993, when he entered the 125cc World Championship.

Throughout his racing career, Jacque achieved many successes on the world stage, including multiple Grand Prix victories and a championship in the 250cc class.

He was also a two-time runner-up in the 500cc class. Jacque announced his retirement from professional racing in 2008 after suffering a serious knee injury during a test session.

However, he remained involved in the sport, working as a test rider and mentor for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team between 2008 and 2011.

In 2017, Jacque was inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame, in recognition of his accomplishments and contributions to the sport. Since his retirement, Jacque has taken on a variety of roles in the motorcycling industry, including working as a television commentator for MotoGP and working as a brand ambassador for Honda.

He is also involved in motorsport-related charities, working with the ‘Ride for Japan’ organization to provide support for the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Overall, Olivier Jacque is an exemplary figure in the motorcycling world.

His impressive racing career, combined with his dedication to the sport and its fans, has earned him the respect of both his peers and the motorcycling community.

14. Olivier Chevallier


Olivier Pierre Albin Chevallier was a French professional Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. He was born in Vendôme, Loir-et-Cher, and his career peaked in 1977 when he achieved a sixth place ranking in the 350cc world championship.

This was his best result in his professional career. In 1976, Chevallier achieved his only Grand Prix victory, at the 350cc Yugoslavian Grand Prix at Opatija. This victory was a memorable moment for Chevallier and his career.

After his victory, he continued to race and compete in professional Grand Prix races, but he never managed to achieve a similar result. Nevertheless, his victory at the 1976 Yugoslavian Grand Prix was an important milestone in his career.

Chevallier’s career in the professional Grand Prix motorcycle racing scene was a memorable one. He achieved a significant result in the 350cc world championship in 1977 and an even more impressive victory at the 1976 Yugoslavian Grand Prix.

Despite not achieving another victory, his career was an important one, and he will be remembered for his achievements.

15. Lorenzo Fellon


Lorenzo Fellon is a professional motorcycle rider from France. He is currently competing in the Moto3 World Championship, which is an international racing series for lightweight motorcycles. The championship is organized by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).

Fellon is currently representing the CIP Green Power Team, a team based in Italy. The team was founded in 2018 and is one of the most successful teams in the championship, having won several races, including the 2019 Italian Grand Prix.

Fellon has been with the team since 2018 and has consistently been one of their top riders. He has achieved numerous podiums and race victories in the Moto3 World Championship, including a win at the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix.

16. David Bellego

David Bellego is an accomplished French motorcycle speedway rider. He has had great success in the sport, having won four French championships. He competes in a variety of disciplines, including Grasstrack, Longtrack, and Speedway.

Grasstrack is a form of motorcycle racing that takes place on a grass track, usually oval in shape. Longtrack is similar to Grasstrack but is run on a longer track.

Speedway is a form of motorcycle racing that takes place on a circular dirt track, usually with a circumference of 400 meters or less. David Bellego’s accomplishments in the sport of motorcycle speedway have been impressive.

He has won four French championships in a variety of disciplines, showing his versatility and skill. This is a testament to his hard work and dedication to the sport.

He is an inspiration to aspiring riders, showing them that hard work and dedication can really pay off in the sport.

17. Patrick Pons


Patrick Pons was a French professional Grand Prix motorcycle road racer, known for his impressive accomplishments. In 1974, he had a breakthrough year, achieving third place in both the 250cc and the 350cc world championships.

Pons’ success continued in 1979 when he became the first Frenchman to win an F.I.M. world championship, claiming the title in the Formula 750 class. This accomplishment was a major milestone in Pons’ career and cemented him as a respected racer among his peers.

Pons’ impressive achievements and the influence he had on the racing world are still remembered today.

18. Jean-Philippe Ruggia


Jean-Philippe Ruggia is a highly accomplished former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer from France. He began competing in the 250cc World Championship in 1993 for Aprilia, where he achieved two race victories and ended the season ranked sixth.

His best year was in 1995 when he was able to improve his standings and finish in fifth place in the 250cc World Championship.

Throughout his career, Ruggia was able to show off his natural speed and skill on the bike, which allowed him to become one of the top contenders in the 250cc class.

His determination and hard work paid off, as he was able to reach a career-best fifth place in the championship standings.

19. Fabien Foret


Fabien Foret is a professional motorcycle racer from Angoulême, France, born on January 29, 1973. He is currently competing in the FIM Endurance World Championship on board a Kawasaki ZX-10R.

Throughout his career, he has mainly participated in the Supersport World Championship, where he has achieved great success. Foret started his motorcycle racing career in the mid-1990s. Since then, he has competed in many championships and won many titles.

He has won the World Supersport Championship in 2003 and the French Superbike Championship in 2005. He also won the Endurance FIM World Cup in 2010 with his Kawasaki ZX-10R. Foret is also known for his daring stunts on the track.

He has become a fan favorite due to his exciting and thrilling performances. He is a true master of the sport and has earned the respect of his peers and fans. Overall, Fabien Foret is an accomplished motorcycle racer who has achieved great success in the sport.

He has won numerous titles and continues to be an exciting competitor in the FIM Endurance World Championship.

20. Stéphane Peterhansel


Stéphane Peterhansel is one of the most successful rally drivers of all time. He is a French driver who has won the Dakar Rally a record 14 times.

He has made history with his incredible achievements in the rally world. In 2018, Peterhansel was part of the official Team Peugeot Total. This team consists of some of the best drivers in the world, and Peterhansel was proud to be one of their representatives.

He showed his skills and determination by finishing strongly in the 2018 season. His 14 Dakar Rally wins are a testament to his skill and dedication to the sport. He has consistently performed at the highest level, and his record is unlikely to be beaten anytime soon.

Peterhansel is a tremendous example of what can be achieved through hard work, determination, and skill. He is an inspiration to young rally drivers and has become a legend in the sport.

21. Olivier Pain

Olivier Pain is a professional motorcycle rider from France who specializes in rally-raid and enduro races. He is widely known for his appearances in the Dakar Rally, one of the most challenging and prestigious races in the world.

Rally-raid and enduro races involve motorcycle riders competing on a variety of terrains, including gravel, mud, and sand. They must navigate through difficult terrain and obstacles, as well as dodge other competitors in order to be the first to cross the finish line.

The Dakar Rally is an annual event that covers over 5,000 miles of terrain in South America and Africa. It has long been considered the ultimate test of endurance and skill for motorcycle riders.

Olivier Pain has earned a reputation as one of the best rally-raid and enduro riders in the world, having competed in the Dakar Rally multiple times and achieving impressive results.

His experience and skill have made him a popular figure in the world of motorcycle riding and a source of inspiration to aspiring racers.

22. Randy de Puniet


Randy de Puniet is an accomplished motorcycle road racer from France. He has had a long and successful career in Grands Prix racing, competing between 1998 and 2014, where he achieved five wins in the 250cc class.

This is an impressive feat, and it speaks to the skill and dedication of de Puniet. In addition to his success in Grands Prix racing, de Puniet also competed in the Superbike World Championship during the 2015 season.

Unfortunately, this did not result in the same level of success as his Grands Prix career, and he was unable to add to his impressive list of accomplishments.

Despite this, de Puniet should be commended for his courage and determination in competing at the highest level of motorcycle racing.

23. Renaud Lavillenie

Renaud Lavillenie is a French athlete and pole vaulter who has had a successful career in track and field. He won the gold medal for pole vaulting at the 2012 London Olympics, where he set a new Olympic record of 5.97 meters.

Four years later, he went on to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics where he earned the silver medal with a jump of 5.98 meters. With this achievement, Lavillenie became the first pole vaulter to earn two Olympic medals.

His success has made him a highly regarded athlete in the sport and has earned him a place in the annals of Olympic history.


France is home to some of the best motorcycle racers in the world. From the legendary French MotoGP star, Fabio Quartararo, to the young phenom, Johann Zarco, France has a long history of producing world-class riders.

The country’s diverse terrain and culture also provide a great environment for riders to develop their skills and compete against the best in the world.

With the top French motorcycle racers continuing to dominate the sport, it’s clear that France will remain a powerhouse in the world of motorcycle racing for years to come.

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James Hillier

I'm a motorcycle racer at Rich Energy OMG Racing. I've always been interested in racing ever since I was a child. My love for racing started with my father who was also a motorcycle racer. He would take me to the track with him and that's when I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I'm not only interested in racing but also in motorcycles themselves. I have always dreamed of owning my own bike someday, so when Rich Energy OMG Racing gave me the opportunity to test their bike last year, it was an honor for me. LinkedIn