It was 1969, the year when a young, promising talent called Ángel Nieto managed to get his first victory in the 50cc World Cup. That same year, the first Repsol motorcycling sponsorships took place, with rallies, circuits, and mountain climbs. Repsol's results in all disciplines where it sponsored cars were good. Vehicles such as the Lancia Fulvia HF 1300, Porsche 911, Renault 8TS, and a few others bore the Repesa R, which would shortly jump onto the legendary Derbi red bullet ridden by Nieto.
In 1970, Nieto scored another victory in the 50cc World Cup and managed to become the runner-up in 125cc as, back then, riders were allowed to participate in several categories at the same time. His presence on the tracks was quickly noted by national fans, for whom Ángel was a revolution.
Repsol, for its part, increased its sponsorship investment in light of the good results, allocating 8.5 million pesetas to all types of competitions. Special emphasis was made on renowned drivers, such as Eladio Doncel, Alberto Ruiz Giménez, and José Manuel Lencina.
In 1971, Repsol decided to enter the two-wheel world and Nieto's successes naturally attracted the interest of the motorcycle manufacturer. After the agreement, the Derbis in the World Cup started bearing the R. In addition to Ángel Nieto, the Spanish company had great riders in 50cc, such as Gilberto Parlotti, Joan Parés, and Federico Van der Hoeven, who frequently accompanied him in the podium. In the 125cc category, only Nieto defended our colours but he fully competed in both categories.
The results didn't take long to arrive. In the first race of the season, the Austrian GP, Nieto took second place in 50cc and first in 125cc. From the 9 races in 50cc that took place that year, the Repsol rider obtained 3 victories and 4 podium finishes, in addition to 3 fastest laps. In the 125cc category, he won 5 of 11 races, obtained another podium finish and six fastest laps.
Ángel got to the last race in Jarama with both titles being disputed, on a day the circuit was filled with an audience of around 100 000 spectators. The media flocked to witness how the emerging legend fought for the 50 and 125cc World Championships.
With the love and support of the public and fans, Nieto started the 50cc race with the title at his fingertips but an unfortunate fall meant he had to content himself with being the runner-up. Despite being bruised, sore, and with a sutured wound, Ángel didn't miss his next appointment that day, winning in the 125cc race. Thus, he achieved the first Motorcycle World Title under the Repsol colours, which was also Ángel Nieto's first in the 125cc category.
In 1972, Nieto obtained both titles just before Derbi decided to withdraw from the competition and focus its sports activities on motocross. In that discipline, the factory won the 1973 national championship next to Repsol and Repsol and Ángel Nieto's paths were momentarily separated.
Ángel Nieto once again started displaying the R on his race suit and some of his bikes, such as the Siroko 250 in 1981, with which he won the Speed National and participated in the World Cup. We could also see the sponsorship on the Ducati Pantah 600, with which the rider participated in resistance tests.
In 1982 and 1983, Nieto won another two World Cups in 125cc on his Garelli, with Repsol's sponsorship, as shown by the R worn on the shoulders of his race suit. Soon thereafter, Ángel retired from racing.
The Master left us in 2017 after an unfortunate traffic accident at the age of 70. As a legacy, he left 90 world cup victories, over 100 victories in national championships, 23 national titles and 12+1 world cups. His legend will never die. Thank you 'Maestro'!