The death of the dean Berta Viñales makes 3 tragedies in 4 months; MotoGP must take the lead to force change

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Highlights of the article:

  • Dean Berta Viñales, 15, died in a shipwreck on the track in Jerez on Saturday
  • Three young motorcycle riders lost their lives this year
  • Former top runner Michel Fabrizio attacks loose regulation

NASCAR reached a turning point in its history in February 2001 when Dale Earnhardt died in the crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Faced with deaths in each of the sport’s three major circuits in a short period of time, NASCAR executives have put safety under the microscope and responded with new rules to make the sport safer. There has not been another driver fatality in two decades, a record for the organization. This is a lesson MotoGP must learn.

Motorcycle racing is set to explore significant changes after the tragedy of last weekend’s competition involving Dean Berta Viñales, the third teenage rider to die this year. Reactions ranging from the harsh criticism of an accomplished Italian rider to Maverick Viñales’ decision not to compete in the Red Bull MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas after his cousin’s death are a start. But now is the time for the organizers and leaders to put a plan in place.

Deniz Oncu of Turkey leads the peloton in the Moto3 race at the San Marino MotoGP competition on September 19, 2021, in Italy. | Mirco Lazzari GP / Getty Images

The recent timeline documented by Autosport.com is alarming.

Andreas Perez, 14, died during a CEV Moto3 2018 race in Spain. Asia Talent Cup rider Afridza Munandar, 20, died in 2019 during a support race at a MotoGP event at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Now there have been three more deaths in four months.

Swiss Moto3 rider Jason Dupasquier, 19, suffered fatal injuries during qualifying for an event in Mugello, Italy, in late May. The following month, 14-year-old Hugo Millan died during a race on the undercard of the CEV World Junior Championship in Aragon.

Elder Berta Viñales, 15, is the last to perish. He collided with another rider in an incident involving several motorcycles during the opening race of the SuperSport 300 World Championship at Circuito de Jerez in Spain. Berta Viñales suffered serious head and chest injuries, World Superbike revealed.

Age is the common denominator of the five deaths. The deceased competitors are between the ages of 14 and 20, which begs the question of how much the credentials of young runners are taken into account before embarking on high-speed competition.

Italian Michel Fabrizio, a successful competitor who retired from most competitions in 2015, said money came first over safety.

“I see indifference on the part of the International Federation: deploying 42 children in the Yamaha Cup (fortunately, everything went well in 2021) and 42 others in the SuperSport 300 World Championship”, he wrote on the social networks. “Too, too many drivers with little or even very little experience, and that … does not only happen in the World Cup, but also in the national championships, where everything is done to make money, until ‘in the last available seat. “

Fabrizio has announced that he is withdrawing from a weekend event to protest the lax control policies he alleges.

“It is time for the policy of each country to intervene,” he added. “The first to send a strong message was Ayrton Senna, who said some circuits were dangerous, and it was only after his death that (Formula 1) intervened. Currently in Formula 1 there are fewer deaths, but in motorcycles lately there is a disaster. “

NASCAR has learned from its tragedies. A year before Earnhardt’s death at Daytona, accidents claimed the lives of Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin Jr. and Tony Roper while racing or training in the two lower NASCAR National Series. As NASCAR envisioned and then built its car of the future, executives considered many new safety measures. They moved the driver’s seats closer to the center of the car, added devices that absorbed crash energy, and tied competitors into harnesses that reduced the whiplash effect of high-speed wrecks.

Going in that direction was easy for NASCAR as it is the governing body of American stock car racing. With sanctioning bodies in every country setting some of the standards for motorcycle racing, the task at hand is now more complicated.

The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) manages Grand Prix motorcycling and has organized the sport into MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3 and MotoE. If any entity has a chance to apply the minimum age and ability regulations, it would be the FIM.

Given the string of tragedies, now is the time to give it a try.

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