A centenary championship

The FIM CEV Repsol is one of the most important speed championships in the world of sports, especially because it serves as a launching point for riders who will make the jump to the World Championship. Great riders like Marc Márquez and Casey Stoner started their careers racing in the small displacement categories in this competition with a 100-year history. Today we’ll tell you about the origins and the history of the CEV, an important event that’s very close to our hearts.

Starting grid in Jerez in 1971.

The first edition took place in 1915. Back then, motorcycling was far from having the resources available today. There were no permanent circuits and the route followed the winding roads of the Basque country through the north of the peninsula. Bilbao was both the starting point and the finish line in a two-stage race that stretched for no less than 335 kilometres! Without a doubt, the origins of this sport were for the courageous; they endured long races that lasted hours with many riders and changing rules.

Montjuic Circuit in 1970. Ángel Nieto surrounded by fans.

It wasn’t until 1950 that the modern format of the event came about, following the Motorcycle World Championship’s lead by establishing both a racing calendar and the same categories as the GP: 125, 250, 350, 500, and sidecars.

In the 1970s, the CEV went through a period of great success and popularity. This was the time of Ángel Nieto, an important figure who helped make this competition what it is today. He was world champion in the 125cc category seven times and in the 50cc category six times. The Zamora-born rider delighted fans by obtaining the longest string of victories in the small displacement categories, winning the CEV 23 times and achieving first place in all categories in 1971 and 1972. Also, we can’t ignore other great riders in the CEV, such as Ricardo Tormo or Jorge Martínez, “Aspar”, in the 1980s. The riders of this generation were not only important because of their victories but also because they became the mentors of future generations of riders, keeping the flame of motorcycling alive through the 80s and 90s.

Today, the categories we see in the FIM CEV Repsol are very much like those in the Motorcycling World Championship. Over the last decade, a trend to adopt standards to make it easier for riders to make the jump to larger competitions has emerged. Even though there are no machines with the same power as those in the MotoGP queen category, those in Moto3 and Moto2 follow rules practically identical to those of the World Championship. The largest displacement motorcycle we can find is the Superbike category, with 1000cc bikes, followed by the single-brand Kawasaki Z Cup, where all riders use the same bike, as well as Superstock, with stock motorcycles.

CEV circuit in Jarama in 1990. Enrique de Juan competing with the Repsol colours.

However, the category that attracts the most attention is Moto3, the successor of the 125cc category, with many novice riders not only from Spain but from around the world, who see the Repsol FIM CEV as an opportunity to begin a professional career towards the Motorcycle World Championship. Taking into account the importance of this competition to serve as a springboard for young riders, the organisation is strongly committed to youth and focuses on preparing future riders to reach the MotoGP circuits with the highest possible level. The result is more than satisfactory, as most riders in the World Motorcycling Championship come from the Repsol FIM CEV.

Alonso López, competing in the CEV in 2016.