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Jan Thiel and the Minarelli Episode
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Jan Thiel: "In 1980 I was working in Bologna, for Minarelli. Working on the Minarelli 125cc race bikes was really my daytime job but I managed to work many evenings on the 50cc, almost as a hobby. I also designed my own frame for it. There were separate racing departments for the 50cc and 125cc. The 50cc project was more like a personal hobby for Mr Minarelli and as each department had its own dyno it was a self contained unit. 
In 1980 there were 50cc engines with 17mm carburettors for hill climbing and the junior class but from 1981 the carburettor rules were changed and we were allowed any size of unit. With the small carburettors the engines needed a very long inlet timing but with the bigger 28mm carburettors the inlet timing could be shortened considerably, giving a big improvement at low revs! I only worked on the cylinders and inlet timing at this time and also did the dyno work, the rest of the work was done by Ascareggi's mechanic, Franco Ravagli."
"For 1982 a whole new 50cc engine was planned with a rotary valve on both sides, but sadly Mr. Minarelli died and nothing came of it. Eugenio Lazzarini came to me in 1980, asking if I was interested in working for Garelli to make a new 50cc. I had a contract with Minarelli for 2 years, so I could not go away and anyway I was not much interested as I was working for Angel Nieto who was a good friend of mine, and still is."
In 1956 Minarelli switched exclusively to manufacturing two-stroke engines in a 20,000 sq. ft. purpose-built factory. It employed 20 technical staff and produced 70 engines a day. These were sold to companies in Italy, other parts of Europe and South America. In 1967 the company changed its name to Motori Minarelli and opened a new plant in Calderara di Reno. By the 1970s engine production had reached 250,000 units a year. 
Copied from a Motorcycle News Paper: At the end of 1981 Garelli strengthened its racing department by recruiting Jan Thiel, a Dutch engineer and two-stroke engine expert, who had already enjoyed Grand Prix success with Jamathi, Bultaco, Piovaticci and the Minarelli. At the same time Garelli concluded an agreement with Minarelli for the latter to supply engines for its 125cc road range, and at that time acquired the assets and staff of Minarelli's racing department.
Minarelli was founded in Bologna, Italy in 1951 by Vittorio Minarelli and Franco Morini,who set up Fabbrica Bolognese Motori (FBM) to build lightweight motorcycles. Among Minarelli’s first complete motorcycles were the 125cc Gabbiano two-stroke and 200cc Vampir four-stroke. In 1954 the company began to produce 48cc moped engines, which were supplied to a host of independent manufacturers worldwide and it gave up motorcycle manufacture to concentrate on its proprietary engine business.
Minarelli decided to enter the Grand Prix racing scene in the 50cc and 125cc classes. They successfully competed in the World GPs with Spanish rider Ángel Nieto winning the 125cc world championships in 1979 and 1981.
In addition to its engine development and production, the Italian firm set a number of world speed records in the 1970s, some of which remain unbeaten.
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1969 Private 
Minarelli Racer
In 1967 Signore Minarelli hired Otello Buscherini to ride their record-special, a membrane controlled two-stroke with 4 speeds. Buscherini, weighing just 48 kg, did beat the Kreidler record from 1965, covering the quartermile in just 18:80:50, trapspeed 77,022 km/h.
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Othello Buscherini (above) was a young private rider in 1966 riding Benelli and then Mondial-Villa 60 Snipe. He continued into the 1978 season and at the end of the 67 season he was hired by Minarelli , where he finished in second place in the Championship. The next season is rode exclusively for Minarelli, winning again the place of honour.

Otello Buscherini (January 19, 1949 in Forlì until May 16, 1976 in Mugello) was an Italian Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. 
His best years were in 1973 when he won two Grand Prix races and in 1974 when he finished the season in fourth place in the 125cc World Championship. Buscherini was killed during the 1976 Nations Grand Prix at Mugello. He won three Grand Prix races during his career.
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As far as I can determine this is the first model of a 6 speed Minarelli engine with horizontally split crankcases.  It is watercooled and has an external clutch and electronic ignition.  The gallery of slides were taken by the Editor at the Stafford Show some years ago when the bike was exhibited on the Classic 50 Racing Clubs stand. Any further information would be appreciated.
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1980 Minarelli 50cc Grand Prix - frame designed by Jan Thiel.
Guiseppe Ascareggi - Minarelli 50cc Grand Prix.
"This bike won the 1981 50cc European championship with Giuseppe Ascareggi.
Note use of the SPARTA Engine
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It would not be complete to leave Minarelli without comment on the work and development Jan Thiel put in to the 125cc Grand Prix racer. In this form Minarelli's 125cc racer was offered to customers for 1980, by which time the works bikes had been updated with a twin-disc front brake. Unfortunately, it is not known who rode this actual machine or what results were achieved. The following season, 1980 he won eight of the 13 rounds to clinch his ninth World Championship and Minarelli’s first Manufacturers’ title. MBA’s Pier Paulo Bianchi took the Riders’ title the following year, though Minarelli held on to the Manufacturers’ crown. Despite this setback Nieto was not done yet, bouncing back to claim his tenth World Championship and Minarelli’s third in 1981 in all showing the tremendous input made by Jan in the development of the 125cc engine and rolling chassis. 
This machine represents Minarelli's 125cc twin-cylinder Grand Prix racer as campaigned during 1979/80 period by Angel Nieto and Pier Paolo Bianchi.
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Although representing the Nieto machine this actual bike is one of the production racers made by the company for the non works teams and individual riders. It has a USA plate on the frame indicating that it was for the American market.
Return to the "Jamathi" Page
The Garelli Team
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Question: When Martin went back to the Netherlands, you were left alone, how did you find that after so many years of working together?
That Martin wanted to go back to the Netherlands at the end of 1981 had been clear for some time before he told us officially . I think he was never really happy with Minarelli. Also, due to the better education system in his home country, he wanted his children to go to school in the Netherlands. We were sad at the parting but we stayed real friends, and when I was home, I always looked him up and we would meet. Unfortunately he did not have a long life but we celebrated it as he would have wished us to do.
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Martin Mijwaart working on a Jamathi Moped
Jan and Minarelli
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