An history of the 50cc class: Kreidler and Jan de Vries
Kreidler was a German manufacturer which turned to small motorcycle and moped production after World War II. By the end of the 50s it detained one third of the German market, and entered the Road Racing World Championship in the 50cc class which was introduced in 1962. Success came immediately, victory in its first two Grand Prix – Spain with Hans-Georg Anscheidt and France with Jan Huberts. Anscheidt was second and Huberts fourth at the end of the year. Anscheidt finished second again in 1963 and third in 1964 (with Frenchman Jean-Pierre Beltoise, later F-1 driver, in 6th). In 1968 Dutch importer Hendrik Van Veen began to develop and tune the little motorcycle according to the new rules (number of gears and cylinders limited). Things improved immediately; five riders finished among the first ten places. Beside the Japanese factories, however there was also another European manufacturer coming up, the Spanish Derbi, with a certain Angel Nieto.
Rider Jan de Vries was born in 1944. He started to race in 1968 in the Grand Prix series in 1968. Another Dutch, Aalt Toersen, also racing for Kreidler, came very close in the 1969 season, narrowly beaten by Angel Nieto on his Derbi (by one point…). Toersen ended second again in 1970. Finally in 1971 the German factory clinched its first title in 1971 thanks to Jan de Vries who won the last two races - the last one being in Jarama while Nieto crashed! In 1972 the Championship ended with Angel Nieto and Jan de Vries with the same number of points, wins and second places. To appoint the World Champion it was then necessary to add the total time of all races, which gave a slight advantage to the Spaniard. In 1973 Jan de Vries took his second title achieving five wins, Swiss Bruno Kneubühler finishing in second; a total of nine riders in the first ten places were riding Kreidler machines.
Henk Van Kessel (1974), Angel Nieto (1975), then Italian Eugenio Lazzarini (79, 80) and Swiss Stefan Dörflinger (82, 83) also won World titles in the 50cc class on Kreidler machines until 1983, last year of the 50cc cubic capacity class.