Words: B.T.//Images: Courtesy of MotoGP.com
Red mist: Extreme anger that clouds one’s judgement temporarily. The amount of anger sufficient enough to stop clear thinking.
MotoGP: Grand Prix motorcycle racing, the Premiere Class of motorcycle racing held on road circuits sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).
Romano Fenati: Born in 1996 in Ascoli Piceno, Italy. Motorcycle racer in the Moto2 category of MotoGP sanctioned events.
These three came to the ultimate meeting on September 9th,2018 when Marinelli Snipers Team Rider Romano Fenati grabbed the front brake lever of racer Stefano Manzi as he approached speeds of close to 130mph. Average bar brake pressure at the Misano Circuit where this occurred is 9. Romano Fenati applied 20! These are all facts.
Next is my opinion. After all, that is why I get paid the big money!
Romano Fenati came onto my radar in 2012 when he placed 2nd in his debut race in Qatar. What I remember about him was his all-white helmet. No sponsor stickers, just an all-white helmet and he rode like a wild child. What impressed me the most was the way he rode in the wet. He won a wet race by more than 20 seconds, one of the top 3 margins of victory of all time for the Moto3 class. I loved this kid. Did you notice how I said, “loved”?
Fenati also had a dark side. At times he was out of control with his temper on and off the track. I’m not going to pretend to know what it takes to be a top-tier motorcycle racer. Otherwise, I would have done it, but to be at that level, your mental game has to be stronger than most, and you have to be able to access risk at a split second. That’s why the top tier racers are where they are and why we watch them. Unfortunately for Fenati, his inability to control his temper has led to his demise.
They say a man who cannot control his anger is a weak man. I wouldn’t go that far, but I will say, we all have moments of weakness. Who doesn’t? But what sets me apart from a MotoGP racer is the ability to control that Red Mist and make it work for them. That’s what being a professional is all about. That’s why they can do what others can not!
That’s why this article is hard for me to write. Everyone deserves a second chance. We all make mistakes but what Romano Fenati did on a September afternoon in Italy was unforgivable. He could have killed another racer!
I repeat, could have killed another racer.
I cannot begin to describe the horror and sickness in my stomach when I saw what he had done. I said to myself, “Oh My God…” But the image stayed with me and continues to linger in my system like a bad meal.
This entire tragedy was hard to digest for two reasons:
1.The sheer horror of not wanting to believe what I just saw and thinking about the “what ifs.”
2. Watching a dream dissipate right in front of my eyes!
I love reviewing the races for this SportBikes Inc Magazine. I try to keep it light and funny, but I’m very careful not to “make fun” of a rider. Why? Because this is their dream. We all dream or at least should. There has to be something that keeps your heart beating. These two-wheeled warriors are chasing their dream of racing at the highest level, and only a few will make it.
I felt Fenati could’ve made it, but now… That dream is gone! And it has to be this way. Not being able to control your emotions for an on-track incident? We’ve all done it, whether its screaming epithets into your helmet or giving the Italian salute. We’ve all done it or wanted to. But, to grab the brake lever of your opponent as he approaches full speed? The line was crossed… Permanently. There is no coming back from this.
Fenati is no stranger to on track outburst. In 2015 he kicked Nicklas Ajo while on his bike. While doing a practice start, he reached over and turned Ajo’s bike off. At the time, I’m not going to lie. It was funny… The turning off the motorcycle that is. Not the kick.
This would only be the beginning. In 2016, Fenati’s contract with Valentino Rossi’s “VR46” Team was terminated after he threatened Rossi best friend, Uccio Salucci. It was clear then he had a problem with his temper. He missed the rest of the 2016 campaign but finished runner-up in the Moto3 Championships in 2017.
He looked like he had turned the corner on his temper tantrums. There were even rumors he had a mental coach. He had signed on to be part of Italian Team MV Augusta’s return to the MotoGP paddock in 2019. Things were starting to turn around for Fenati. Until September 9th.
Riders lose their tempers all the time and react. Casey Stoner punching Randy DePuniet’s arm on a cool down lap. Thomas Luthi smacking Marc Marquez’s helmet after a race. Yes, these were all reactions and reactions with anger, but they were on cooldown laps or after a race and with no intent to injure.
What Fenati did was unforgivable!
Does it matter that Manzi made a mistake and cost them a trip through the gravel and that was the reason for his unthinkable action? No, it doesn’t. Any excuse for this action would be almost condoning this type of behavior. There comes a time when a line in the sand has to be drawn, and this was it. Although he received a two-race ban, the termination of both contracts-this years contract with Marinelli Snipers Team and his 2019 season with MV Augusta… This is not enough.
Romano Fenati has to be permanently banned from racing motorcycles. Period. His dream died on September 9th when he decided to put another rider’s life in jeopardy. There is to be no wiggle room. No slap on the wrist. A message has to be sent to Fenati and anyone else who decides to take this sort of action.
Fenati has to be made an example of. It needs to be established that this behavior is unacceptable or this could happen, again. Motorsports are inherently dangerous. Motorcycle racing is even more so. Every time these racers put that helmet on, they know the risks. They shouldn’t have to worry about another racer purposely trying to end their life. Because in the end, that’s what it boils down to. A purposeful act with intent to injure.
Involuntary Manslaughter requires that the defendant intended to perpetrate an unintentional killing a logical possibility. The consequence involved in that crime is the death of the victim and an act done with intent to achieve this if an attempt at all is attempted murder.
Overreaction? Not at all. Rumors are that the Misano Circuit in question were looking into this. It’s not easy saying Fenati deserves to be banned for life the thing that he loves to do but it was his actions that got him.
Where does he go from here? Who knows? I don’t have the answer to a lot of these questions, but I do know that Romano Fenati’s dream of ever racing in MotoGP are now gone and as well should be.
He made that decision himself on September 9th. I’m sure he wishes he could take it all back as well as I wish I never had to see that happen.
I wish him well on his journey in life. He’s young. He can turn his life around. Hell, you can always turn your life around. Its never to late to be what you could have been. But as far as being a racer in MotoGP, that is gone.
The proverbial “book” needs to be thrown at him, penalty wise. And yes, it will get worse before it gets better. Hopefully, through the actions of DORNA, FIM, and series sponsors, we will never have to witness such an ugly act on track, ever again.