Agostini won the 350 title for the fourth year in a row but a newcomer served notice when young Finn, Jarno Saarinen, won his first Grand Prix at the Czechoslovakian round then won again in Italy. Agostini had things his way in the 500cc class, winning the first eight rounds of the eleven race series against minimal factory-sponsored opposition.Jack Findlay's victory at the 1971 Ulster Grand Prix not only marked the first victory for a Suzuki motorcycle in the premier 500cc class, but also the first-ever 500cc class victory for a motorcycle powered by a two stroke engine. The inaugural Austrian Grand Prix was held at the new high-speed Salzburgring.
Points were awarded to the top ten finishers in each race. Only the best of six races were counted on 50cc, 125cc, 350cc and 500cc championships, best of seven in 250cc, while in the Sidecars, the best of five races were counted.