The Decline And Fall Of Romano Fenati

Romano Fenati burst onto the racing scene like a meteor, burning bright and lighting up Moto3. In his first race, at Qatar in 2012, he finished second behind Maverick Viñales. In his second, at Jerez, in difficult conditions, he won by a fearsome 36 seconds. Here was surely a rider to watch for the future.

His ascension to greatness did not run as smoothly as those early races promised. A couple more podiums in 2012 saw him finish sixth in the championship on the underpowered FTR Honda. After a tough 2013, he rediscovered his form when he was invited to become part of the VR46 Academy, and signed to ride a KTM with the Sky VR46 Racing Team the following year. The change did him good, winning four races and finishing fifth in the championship.

2015 saw less success, Fenati showing signs of frustration. During the warm up in Argentina, the Italian lashed out at Niklas Ajo inexplicably, first trying to kick him, then stopping next to the Finn for a practice start, and reaching over a flicking his kill switch.

Anger management

Things went from bad to worse in 2016. The relationship between Fenati and his crew deteriorated during the season, with arguments becoming increasingly frequent. In Austria, an argument with the team became so heated that the Sky VR46 team sacked him on the spot. The incident had been the last straw, with Fenati already having been given two formal warnings before the Austrian GP. Fenati had refused to move to Pesaro and fit in with the ethos of the VR46 Academy, which includes a full program of physical training both on and off the bike, as well as coaching in other areas, such as PR skills and English.

Missing half a season seemed to teach Fenati an important lesson. In interviews, he showed the kind of humility which had been missing previously. He found a new home for 2017 with the Marinelli Snipers team, and reaped the rewards of his new attitude. He won three races, and was the only rider capable of offering consistent opposition to eventual champion Joan Mir.

Was Fenati finally back on the right track? His move up to Moto2 proved to be a rocky road. In the first eleven races of his debut Moto2 season, he scored points only twice, his best finish a seventh place at Le Mans. Qualifying went little better, Fenati regularly starting from the middle of the grid, or worse. At Silverstone, he got the worst of the weather and qualified 31st before the race was washed out. At his home race in Misano, he could get no further than 22nd.

When the going gets tough

Perhaps that explains why his frustration boiled over at Misano. During the race, while he was in the group fighting for eleventh place, he had a couple of run ins with Stefano Manzi of the Forward Racing team. Manzi, with a reputation as something of a reckless rider, pushed Fenati wide a couple of times, making contact at one point with both men ending up in the gravel.

Fenati lost his cool. He chased Manzi down, and as the pair went along the back straight, Fenati pulled alongside Manzi, reached over, and gave the Forward Racing rider's front brake lever a tweak. It was only for a fraction of a second, but it was hard enough to have produced a brake pressure of 20 bar, Manzi later told the Italian press. The average braking pressure a Moto2 rider uses at Misano is 9 bar. Manzi's Suter twitched, but the Italian did not crash, a minor miracle at 217 km/h.

Unfortunately for Fenati, the cameras around the track caught what he had done on video. The FIM Stewards reviewed the tape, black-flagged Fenati, and later handed him a ban for the next two races. (That, at least, is the phrasing used in the penalty notice: "For the above reasons and considering the seriousness of the infraction, the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel has imposed on you a penalty of suspension from the next two (2) FIM GP World Championship Moto2 races." The next two Moto2 races are at Aragon and Buriram, Thailand.)

Condemnation

On Sunday afternoon, in the aftermath of the race, many hot words were said about Fenati's actions, and the leniency of the penalty. The general consensus was that Fenati's actions were outrageous, and his penalty was nowhere near stiff enough.

"I think he should never race a motorcycle again," said Cal Crutchlow, among the fiercest of the critics. "He should have walked back in his garage and his team should have just kicked him straight out of the back." Motorcycle racing is dangerous enough with madness such as this, Crutchlow felt. "You can’t do this to another motorcycle racer. We are risking our lives enough. If somebody grabbed your brake - sure, maybe there was contact before, but there is contact all the time. I don’t think from the replay what Manzi did, he tried to pass. Fenati ran wide, he tried to go under him, and they made some contact. This is racing. But to grab the brake lever on the straight he deserves to just be kicked straight out."

Pol Espargaro went so far as to apologize on behalf of all motorcycle racers. "This is something that we hope to never, ever, ever see again in racing," the KTM rider said. "This is not racing. I feel shame if someone sees the races and sees a professional rider do something like that. I mean, you can be frustrated. You can be really angry. But this is something that the riders can never do because after people see on TV and as I said this is a shame. I apologize in the name of the riders because this was a shame."

Whatever punishment the FIM Stewards came up with, it would not go far enough for Pol Espargaro. "There is no punishment, even one or two races. A professional rider cannot do something like that. I mean for sure Race Direction will take the measures they think. It's their job. But whatever they do, it's not going to be enough because somewhat who does that is not a professional rider and if a rider that is not professional is racing here it's not good."

Maverick Viñales pointed out that Fenati has previous form for this type of behavior, pointing to the incident with Niklas Ajo in Argentina. "I don't know," the Movistar Yamaha rider said. "I never thought about grabbing the brake of someone on the straight. I don't know what is wrong, but many times he does things, also to my friend Niklas [Ajo], he did stupid things [in Argentina]. I hope these two races make him think. For sure he has a lot of talent, but if you don't work, you don't think, you don't try to work more on the track, I don't know."

The Fall

This was just the start of a Luciferian fall from grace. At first, the Marinelli Snipers Team issued a press release expressing their anger at the actions of Fenati, but on Monday morning, a second followed, announcing they had released Fenati from his contract. Or to put it another way, they had sacked him.

A few hours later, a press release followed from the Forward Racing Team, who had signed Fenati to ride for them in 2019, alongside Stefano Manzi, ironically. They, along with MV Agusta, who are building the chassis for the Forward team, did not want to continue with Fenati. Fenati was left without a job this year, and without a job next year.

Earlier in the day, Fenati had released a statement which struck almost exactly the right tone. He had not been acting as a man, he said. A man would have waited until the end of the race, then taken the matter up with Race Direction. The fact that Stefano Manzi also got a six-place grid penalty suggest that they were aware of Manzi's reckless riding.

Yet the statement also contained hints that Fenati had not learned from the incident. "It's true, unfortunately I have an impulsive character, but my intention was certainly not to hurt a pilot like me, but I wanted to make him understand that what he was doing was dangerous, and that I could have made some mistakes as well as he had just made them to me!" Fenati wrote. Though he then insisted that this was not meant to try to justify his actions, his words certainly smacked of justification, rather than penance.

What is enough?

Is a two-race ban a strict enough penalty? The FIM Stewards try to base their judgments on some kind of precedent. The problem is, this behavior is pretty much unprecedented, so what to do? I have contacted Race Director, along with Dorna, for an explanation, but I have as yet to receive a reply.

To an extent, the situation has already resolved itself, Fenati having lost a job for both this year and next. Even worse, this is the second chance he has blown in the Grand Prix paddock, and it is hard to see who will give him another chance. Though getting a shot at a rider of such obvious talent as Fenati, and probably for free, could prove a little too tempting for teams further down the Moto2/Moto3 grid.

Though grabbing the brake lever of another rider is so far beyond acceptable as to be outrageous, it is worth pointing out that Manzi did not crash when Fenati pulled that stupid stunt. Fenati may have squeezed the brake lever, but he didn't grab it for long. He didn't jam it on, he squeezed and released. Had Fenati really squeezed the lever, Manzi would have been down. And probably, Fenati along with him.

Out of control

The problem is not even that Fenati grabbed Manzi's brake lever, but that a) the idea popped into his head; and b) he couldn't stop himself actually carrying out the idea. If you banned every rider who had such an idea pop into their head, you would have a pretty empty field. But racing, like life, is about self control, managing your emotions, and choosing the best course of action. Anyone who gets to b) deserves to be banned.

This is the crux of the matter. Romano Fenati is clearly an immensely talented rider, but he has two serious flaws. He is young, and he is impulsive, which taken together produce an explosive mix. The former quality will take care of itself. The latter needs a prolonged and committed approach to change.

Fenati's biggest problem is that he does not have the environment around him to help him manage himself emotionally. He is not surrounded by people who can help ground himself, and help bring him down to earth. He has no one to help him manage the tension, and as a result, the tension can cause him to explode in unpredictable ways.

Life?

Does Romano Fenati deserve a life ban? Life is a very long time. Fenati is just 22 years old, old enough to know better, but still young enough to struggle with self control. I know that my 22-year-old self was a walking disaster of a human being. It took me a while to find my feet, and become a little less of a disaster. With age, and with guidance, perhaps Fenati can learn to control his inner demons and channel his aggression. It is hard to change a person's underlying character. But with time, you can learn to manage it better.

The trouble for Fenati right now is that other riders may simply refuse to ride with him, after what he did. Any team signing Fenati may have to not only persuade sponsors to give him a chance, but also to contain a baying mob of riders and fans calling for his blood.

And all this talk of Romano Fenati glosses over another serious problem. If you thought the battle was fierce at the front of the Moto2 and Moto3 classes, in the middle of the pack, it is relentless and blood curdling. The battle for a podium could involve bonus money for positions scored. The battle for the final point can be the difference between racing next season, and having to raise another €200,000 or more to pay for a ride. Or worse, the end of a career as a professional motorcycle racer.

Why doesn't Race Direction catch all this blood and gore further down the field? They are reliant on the footage shot by the Dorna cameras around the track, and by the many CCTV cameras which line the circuit. But all those cameras don't necessarily capture every crime and misdemeanor which happens on track. Hard passes, physical contact, and deliberate attempts to run each other off the track can slip between the cracks, as the cameras switch back from one group to another. This is where so many real battles are fought. And this is where poor behavior is learned. Intervening here would be a big help.

The future

What does the future hold for Romano Fenati? In the short term, a period of inactivity. And unless something changes in his surroundings, more of the same in the long terms. But with coaching, guidance, and the right approach, he might be allowed back into the bosom of a racing paddock, and he might even start to perform up to his obvious potential.

To be frank, Fenati is not the only rider who would benefit from such an approach. Most young motorcycle racers grow up learning that the only thing that counts is riding the bike, and being fit enough to do so. But so much of motorcycle racing is about mental control, emotional control, and managing yourself as a human, that professional coaching is required. As long as young kids are being throw into the shark pool of World Championship paddocks without any idea of what awaits them, riders like Fenati will continue to be a danger to themselves, and to other riders. Time for a new, more professional approach.

 


 

Press Statement

Here we are. Now we can communicate that the Marinelli Snipers Team shall terminate the contract with the rider Romano Fenati, from now on, for his unsporting, dangerous and damaging conduct for the image of all. With extreme regret, we have to note that his irresponsible act endangered the life of another rider and can't be apologized in no way. The rider, from this moment, will not participate anymore to a race with the Marinelli Snipers team. The team, Marinelli Cucine, Rivacold and all the other sponsors and the people that always supported him, apologized with all the World Championship fans.


Statement by Romano Fenati

I apologize to the whole sports world.

This morning, with a clear mind, I wish it had been just a bad dream.

I think and I think back to those moments, I made a disgraceful gesture, I was not a man!

A man would finish the race and then go into Race Direction to try and get justice for the previous episodes.

I should not have reacted to provocations.

The criticisms are correct and I understand the resentment towards me.

I want to apologize to everyone who believed in me and all those who felt hurt by my action.

An image of me and of sport has come out, everything, horrible.

I'm not like that, who knows me well knows!

In my career, I've always been a good driver. Last year I was one of the few who did not receive any penalties, I never put someone else's life in jeopardy, on the contrary, I have always maintained that there are dangerous pilots, on the track, for driving style.

It's true, unfortunately I have an impulsive character, but my intention was certainly not to hurt a pilot like me but I wanted to make him understand that what he was doing was dangerous and that I could have made some mistakes as well as he he had just made them to me!

I do not want to justify myself, I know that my gesture is not justifiable, I just want to apologize to everyone.

Now I will have time to reflect and clear my ideas.


MV Agusta and the Forward Racing Team: Fenati will no longer be a part of our project

The serious misconduct by Romano Fenati towards Stefano Manzi during the Moto2 race during the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini which took place at the Circuito Marco Simoncelli di Misano Adriatico will have repercussions for the future, beyond the black flag shown to Fenati, and the two-race ban imposed by Race Direction. MV Agusta will not be represented by Fenati in 2019, the year which will see the return of the Varese factory to the highest level of motorcycle racing, and the Moto2 World Championship. The agreement between MV Agusta Reparto Corse Forward Racing Team and Romano Fenati has been terminated.

Giovanni Castiglioni, President of MV Agusta, said:

"In all my years of watching sport, I have never seen behaviour as dangerous as this. A rider who can act like this can never represent the values of our company, and our brand. For this reason, we do not want him to be the rider with which MV Agusta makes its return to the world championship."

Giovanni Cuzari, Team Owner:

"After the disgraceful episode between Romano Fenati and Stefano Manzi, it is impossible for the team to maintain its planned collaboration with the rider from Ascoli for the 2019 season. Fenati's behaviour is incompatible with the sporting values of the Forward Racing Team and of MV Agusta. For this reason, though we bitterly regret it, we are forced to cancel our project with Fenati. Our sport is already extremely dangerous, and any act which increases the risks involved for the riders is intolerable. We cannot accept behaviour of this type from one of our future riders."

 


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Total votes: 235
Total votes: 26

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Comments

we have Alex Márquez smiling and giving Augusto Fernandez a pat on the back after Fernandez went to apologize after the race (about 1:02:00 on the VideoPass No Spoiler) for ramming Márquez off the track.  An example all riders could benefit from.

Total votes: 9

Thanks, David, for another balanced and insightful article.

Total votes: 24

something like "but for the grace of god, there go I"?  I did some really really dumb crap even past his age.

No, I don't think I would pull someone's brake lever unless I was in fear of my life but 22 year old males do do stupid, impulsive and dangerous things.  David, I really appreciated your comments about the lack of action further down the field where dangerous acts are par for the course and relatively unchecked.  This is perhaps an area race direction should really be putting some extra resources on.

In his own words Fenati now has time to reflect.  Gut feeling is he will be back next year and as David suggested essentially racing for free.  If so, this will be his third time and hopefully it will be because he has truly matured, still a tall ask for some 23 year olds.

Total votes: 16

Decline and fall.....

No more chances I say....he's learned nothing.

The right of the other riders to respect on track trumps his right to any more opportunities to confirm that he's a dangerous jerk.

Total votes: 27

Pol Espargaro is absolutely right about professionalism. This incident is hugely damaging to the sport. Just look around the non-specialist (that is non-motorcycle) media today. You'll find nothing about Andrea Dovizioso's brilliant performance. But you'll find plenty of coverage of the Fenati incident. It's damaging to the sport. It's damaging to us all.

Total votes: 10

Not only that, but it's Thursday and David Emmett hasn't even post up a Round report yet!!!!! :)

Total votes: 9

Fenati has, through his own actions towards others he shares the track with, lost that privilege.

He can always find another job but he should not be allowed to share a track with others again, he's shown he's not capable of doing in a sufficiently safe manner.

Don't try make it more complicated than that.

Total votes: 7

Overall I think this is a good, balanced article, but I’ve read in a few places now about whether or not a lifetime ban is too harsh. Setting all of the emotion of the situation aside I still don’t see a life ban as particularly serious at all to be honest. Fenati was fired from his job for a boneheaded incident, and that’s putting it mildly. Though it’s hard to come up with an equivalent incident in another field of work I guarantee people in the ‘real’ world would be fired for much less. If you held a professional certification you’d be stripped of it and banned from the entire profession, not just the job, forever.

Fenati lost his job, and (hopefully) has to find a completely new line of work. That’s a completely normal penalty that occurs all the time in many careers. He’s not been sentenced to prison for life. He’s been (maybe) sentenced to not race a moto2 bike, or maybe any bike, again. Time to go to school, become an adult, and get a job.  Kinda like I was doing when I was 22.

Total votes: 8

You'd be surprised.   In the U.S. this is not the case, at least not in big corporations.   If you get fired from your job, your company cannot communicate the reason for the firing even if a new potential employer calls on a reference.   The only thing the former employer is allowed to say is whether the person worked at the company, and for how long.  Of course, they can heap praise on the person if they did a good job, but they can't say why the person was fired.

Point being, unless you do something criminal, your new employer is not going to find out about it, and the same crappy employee can just continue going from company to company.

There is no such thing as a lifetime ban in normal life (in the U.S.),  unless it violates national security and involves security clearances and such, or you're an athlete.

Anyway, Fenati doesn't deserve it.

Total votes: 9

Here in Canada it’s up to the employer to decide whether or not to offer a referral for a former employee, whether to disclose the reason for termination, or to just confirm position and length of employment, and I assume it’s the same in the US but I may be wrong.  Regardless I was referring to when someone belongs to a professional organization. Say a doctor, lawyer or accountant, a certified trainer or therapist, and on an on. If the designation that the employee has is revoked by their governing body that’s pretty much it.  Well, in some cases they have their license revoked for a period of time and are eventually given the opportunity to work their way back, but other times it’s a lifetime revocation, and either way you’re likely looking for a new field of work in the mean time to make ends meet.  That’s pretty much what’s happened to Fenati and I don’t really see how it’s that different.  

Total votes: 4

If a man commits a crime, barring full on insanity/menatal incapacity, he has to face the punishment.

But in previous analyses of Vinales during the darker times of this season, you provided a good sketch of the lack of character completion a lot of these riders have. A lot of these riders, particularly the younger ones who came up in the Grand Prix paddock, were basically put on a motorcycle from infancy and raised to prioritize that craft. It's not hard to see how some key pieces might be missing.

You factor in the shock of going from being a top rider in the grade school leagues to fighting for points and seats at the Grand Prix level, it's not hard to see how it can break someone. 

Again, obviously Fenati needs, at the minimum, a long time out- every other rider on the grid has managed to not pull another rider's brake lever in the heat of battle- but I can't help but feel bad for a guy who knows nothing else being sacked from the only job he knows how to do. Hopefully he can come back to the real world, develop some other skills, find himself and live a productive life.

But I think Dorna would do well to provide more psychological support for the riders in the paddock. I imagine there are a lot of frayed psyches with no productive outlets. A very tragic story that thankfully did not end up even more tragic.

Total votes: 43

David he did have a chance that everyone dreams about. He was part of the VR46 Academy. He had the possibility of everything you said young riders should have. A coach and a group around him that many riders should have. Unfortunately he did throw it away in Austria. I feel for him but he had everything that would have made him a great rider. He has no one se to blame but himself. As you said he did say he was sorry he tried to justify what he did. 

Total votes: 7

World Championship racing is not therapy nor is it a proving ground.  You already have to have some proof that you belong there before you can grid up.  I realize that giving perspective on Fenati's behavior is not being an apologist for him; however, I don't believe it's all that relevant.  Fenati does not belong on the grid.  He has clearly demonstrated this both on and off the track.  It doesn't matter why he is the way he is.  He just doesn't.

As for whether he can EVER belong on the grid, I guess I would agree that a lifetime ban is probably no different than a prison sentence with no possibility of reformation.  Society has somewhat of a means to demonstrate reformation, so perhaps an IRTA jury can agree on path back.  After all, his peers should probably have some say in the matter.

Total votes: 8

David he did have a chance that everyone dreams about. He was part of the VR46 Academy. He had the possibility of everything you said young riders should have. A coach and a group around him that many riders should have. Unfortunately he did throw it away in Austria. I feel for him but he had everything that would have made him a great rider. He has no one se to blame but himself. As you said he did say he was sorry he tried to justify what he did. 

Total votes: 5

Contrarian that I am (surprise), I find the hand wringing over this incident hypocritical. If Dorna is going to make Loris Capirossi a safety officer after he t-boned Tetsua Harada to win the 250 title... then they are telling us that motorcycle road racing is a blood sport, essentially war without guns. I see huge numbers of people in denial. People crash in this sport all the time. Yes, you obviously do what you can to minimize it, but you will never eliminate it. Fenati expertly handed out an ill advised wake up call. If he should by some miracle get a ride, he should be allowed to race after 1) serving his penalty 2) severe finger wagging from race direction and 3) having to face his fellow riders in a closed meeting

Total votes: 32

The precedent set by DORNA hasn't been to ban riders for incidents such as these. Marco Simoncelli was able to nail Barbara's brake lever (with his fairing, not hand) in the middle of Mugello's front straight sending Hector flying at over 100mph. Niccolo Canepa did a "Fenati" to another rider during a track day but committed to it, fully grabing the brake lever, sending that rider to the hospital.

Neither rider was banned and they still were able to race afterwards.  

Total votes: 12

My memory wasn't 100% correct as he swatted the fellow's arm off the bars instead of grabbing the lever. Regardless my point was in trying to show examples of riders intentionally crashing another rider out while on circuit by messing with their front brake and not having their racing license revoked. Where as Romano wasn't even successful at causing a crash and so I wouldn't expect it to happen to him.

But apparantly the times, they are a changin'... ;)

Total votes: 11

"make Loris Capirossi a safety officer after he t-boned Tetsua Harada to win the 250 title"

You need to go back and watch that incident again.   Hardly a T-bone, looks like a racing incident to me, even though racing direction DQd him for it.

https://www.motorcyclenews.com/sport/motogp/2015/october/mcn-plus---eyew...

My favorite bit in the article:

Pernat: ‘Loris had a three-year deal with Aprilia but they broke Loris’s contract and didn’t give him a ride for 1999. Loris went to court and won. Aprilia were told to pay him a penalty of two million Euros, so Loris bought a Ferrari with some of the money and put ‘Aprilia’ on the reg plate!’

Total votes: 14

and he winds up finally killing somebody, all interested parties should hold you legally responsible. Cool?

Total votes: 7

of the loneliness of a professional sportsman away from the HD imagery and the immaculate sponsors’ logos. A truly shocking incident that, with David’s typical intelligence, gives way to a glimpse into the murky goldfish bowl. Thanks CTX also for your angle, I do often wonder how some of these young men cope away from the track, particularly when the rewards aren’t that great, even at the sharp end of Moto 2 & 3. Been around the British Superbike paddock many years and I’m really no longer very fond of it-fur coat and no knickers is how I describe it. The unforgivable fact that the organisers don’t pay prize money in BSB doesn’t help, it’s fairly common for a rider to need to find £20,000 even for an average Supersport/Superstock ride. Then some of them ride for teams that, other than preparing the bike, give that young rider very little or no help in other ways. I’ve known young people spend hours alone on trains getting to PR events or tests, at their expense, and nobody even collects them from the station! Yes, mental strength obviously must be extremely high, and of course a resilience shown that most of us cannot imagine, but who catches these guys when they fall, or better still, before they fall? I fear that the machismo still common in many Mediterranean teams, that exists below the veneer of the PR, is ill-equipped to help prepare a young rider for the psychological turbulence around them, especially when that rider may also be stretching their families to breaking point raising the finances to continue. They say these paddocks are communities, mobile cities. I agree, but there’s always a darkness on the edge of town..

Total votes: 44

And the "darkness on the edge of town"... As you bring up the machismo in these Mediterranean teams I would like to nuance it or rather add another layer : families! Ill prepared parents who function in a passive aggressive relation. They are managers coaches agents and parents all at the same time... And that very often turns out to be a problem. 

Instead of helping these kids mature they worsen their case.

Interesting post! 

Total votes: 12

He should be banned from the series and face criminal charges! It could have been potentially fatal. 2 race ban seems wildly insufficient. 

Total votes: 9

To be able to race in a FIM sanctioned event a rider must first apply for an international FIM Licence.To do this you must first have evidence of holding an `A` grade racing licence from your home country,then be endorsed by your home racing body as being able to compete at an international level.Part of this endorsement requires prove of safe riding technique and full knowledge of the rules for the discipline of riding,unless of cause you hold a passport from one of the major sponsoring countries it appears.How on earth did Fennati get his Italian domestic licence endorsed for international competition? There are many young riders from non euro countries that show amazing promise and intelligence but can`t get a start in europe because they do not come from Spain or Italy.

Total votes: 9

The problem is that this wasn't without precedent. IIRC, it was Fonsi Nieto who did just this at Motegi while they were still on 250s, and virtually nothing was done. 

Total votes: 8

i fear that because sponsors, his teams & riders have shunned him, any ‘official’ sanction imposed on him is moot, & so I can see him consigned to the wilderness for a brief period but eventually able to return to a paddock somewhere having acquired nothing except a new chip on his shoulder. But if he’s a danger to his fellow riders then he’s a danger in WSB, CEV, BSB, the Italian Championship or the Rimini Invitational Scooter Cup. 

Personally I’d like to see him put in motorcycle racing jail, so that he can’t just lay low for a while then pick up a ride somewhere else but he does have a clear path to redemption, if the sponsors & other riders buy it.

i suggest denying him a FIM licence until he can provide notarised proof that he has spent a year successfully doing {something appropriate} - marshalling at a race circuit for example or working in a hospital trauma centre as an orderly... and also successfully completing agreed programs on anger management, or whatever the issue is that is causing him to go off the deep end on occasion. I doubt there is anything in the sporting code that governs this, but it seems clear that somebody who has demonstrated themselves psychologically unfit to race motorcycles SHOULD have to more than sit on the naughty step for a bit before being allowed back to race again until the next time. If he ends up ending somebody’s season, career or life if there is a next time that he loses the plot, the whole sport will be in the dock... literally in some cases!

Total votes: 6

Thank you David for this excellent article. And the excellent writing. 

The sad case of Fenati raises so many questions. And, as I said in a previous post I think that race direction once again acted poorly. It should have been a season ban. And then allowed to come back on  probation. Another missed opportunity for the regulation body to show that they have the situation in hand.

Now to Fenati : something that is worth noting: his mother interview. She spoke to an Italian newspaper like she did when her son was kicked out of the academy... I exaggerate of course but she reminded me of some of the mafia women, who fiercely stand by their sons, husbands, brothers, fathers... against everything and everybody....

This brings me to the broader matter of the role of parents in the world of high level sports competition and I'm thinking of this brilliant book "Open" by Agassi. A fascinating brilliant recount on how he hated tennis and the relation with his father who "made" him choose tennis against every fiber of his body... 

I mention this because as you say talent is not enough if you don't have the mental strength to control yourself. Most of these kids are surrounded by parents who are not prepared in the psychological department, and somehow when their kids snap they become.... Parents! Taking unconditionally their kid's side. 

Fenati's mother is an excellent exemple: when her son was kicked out of the academy she gave an interview to La Gazzetta explaining that her son is a good person. That sometimes he can be tempered. But he was provoked... Hence it's not really his fault. Yesterday she said almost the same thing. Her words are spoken not only as a mother but as her agent too... 

I think that Fenati should be given one more  very monitored under caution chance next season on the condition that he can prove he worked on his anger issues. And maybe changes his whole entourage. 

It seems that a penal action was started in Italy for "attempted murder" I do not think it's a good idea. We open the door to possible  unending legal actions for things happening on the track.

 I feel some pietas for Fenati... 

 

Total votes: 20

"Fenati's biggest problem is that he does not have the environment around him to help him manage himself emotionally." - It sounds like he was given this environment within the Sky VR46 Racing Team program (to cite one example) and didn't respond as expected or needed.

Dorna, the manufacturers, the advertisers and the teams will know how Fenati's actions look to the track audience, the media and to the rest of us watching (and re-watching) at home.  He was visibly reckless bordering on causing major harm to one or more riders (given that riders are very often in very close proximity to one another.)  These constituencies can't afford to "host" a rider visibly on intent on bodily harm to another rider.   Bad for business.

Total votes: 7

When he was sacked from VR46 it was a massive blow to his career.  Although I bet the other riders sighed with relife as he seems to be an abrasive character.

He is getting what he deserves.

Total votes: 7

I know that many will think I am going to far to suggest that Fenati deserves criminal charges, but i truly believe that, and hear me out.  They were going somewhere in the neighborhood of 210-220 kph.  He intentionally reached across and grabbed Manzi's brake lever.  Any motorcycle rider with more than 5 minutes experience on a bike will know that stabbing a front brake lever unexpectedly and in an uncontrolled manner at those speeds for any amount of time can lead to potential destruction of property, bodily injury, and, not unrealistically, death.  Fenati's intentions only matter to the extent that he likely did not intend to actually kill Manzi.  It would be hard to prove he did not intend to cause him to crash.  The action he deliberately took really should have caused a crash. So, proving that was not his intent would take some pretty serious convincing.  Therefore, he deserves some kind of assault charges.  The only difference was that the two people involved were professional racers on a closed track.  If I did this to someone on a public road surrounded by traffic: 1) It's more likely they would crash unless they had the skill and reflexes of a pro-racer.  2) Since they crashed their bike would be damaged and so would they.  Therefore, I would receive criminal charges.  Doing this to someone on a closed circuit is no different from a moral perspective, and needs to be treated as such criminally.

Total votes: 11

This sucks. I don't know why but I've always had a big soft spot for Romano. Must've been him bursting onto the scene and taking that Jerez win. I also just thought it was awesome that he had a plain white helmet, no decals no sponsors!

Then at Indy I had a paddock pass and was like a kid at the candy shop. Bumping into all my favorite riders. Was pretty cool, never did anything like that. Then I see Romano. Excitedly I yell "HEY ROMANO!" with a big smile. He basically spat, said something in Italian and kept walking. To say the least I was surprised. Well, anyway i thought, maybe he's having a bad day. Would've thought he'd be happy to see an American who even knew who he was but that's besides the point.

Then things started to fall apart for him and later he got sacked the first time. It kinda started to add up for me that maybe this guy had a bit of an attitude haha

When he got picked up again I was back on board. Good for him I thought. And as the season went on it just seemed like such a great story! Guy has some issues, reality hits him hard, but he learns from it and comes back stronger! It seemed like he really did rehab himself and took advantage of a second chance!

Its just heartbreaking seeing someone throw all that away in a fit of rage, especially after thinking that person had actually changed. It's clear he hasn't and I stand firmly with Cal and Pol. There's no place for that in racing and Fenati has been given too many chances at this point. Maybe if it was somebody else or if this was the first time anything had happened, but even then, this is the highest level and the sport is far too dangerous for those kinds of schenanigans. Life Ban might be harsh but there has to be a certain line, no?

Total votes: 10

When something like this occurs it’s almost almost a good idea to allow time to decide what should happen next. Things often look a little different with distance. So I think race direction should have suspended Fenati indefinitely there and then, and arranged a full review one or two weeks later, to allow perspective to set in.

1). For instance, what is the essential difference between Fenati’s action and that of Valentino at Motegi a couple of years back? Or that of Márquez at (take your pick)? Or that of any of countless other riders  recorded by the cameras for posterity - for instance I well remember Aaron Slight loitering on his bike at the side of the track until Colin Edwards came back around, in WSBK many years ago, intent on taking him out after Colin nerfed him into the kitty litter. For me, there’s no essential difference at all (without raking back over the did he or didn’t he stuff in one or two cases). But the penalties handed out vary considerably despite the fact that in each case the aggressor could have easily killed the target.

2). Should the team be held to more account here? As a point for comparison, if a young soldier lost it and turned on his own side, the brass have some explaining to do, because they are expected to train him or her to have the self control to be trusted in dangerous situations. Or not allow them to get that far. I don’t know the rules, but can Fenati’s team field a replacement now that they’ve sacked him? Shouldn’t the ban apply to the team, and perhaps the team as a whole, maybe even across all three classes? Peer pressure can be a powerful thing. But I imagine the money speaks loudest here and I wonder too whether it was convenient for both teams to be able to ditch an underperformin rider at this point in the year.

3). Fenati. Many of us do stupid things, especially when young, but are lucky enough to not have them adversely affect our whole lives. Some kids are fully formed adults by the time they are 20. Others need much more time or life experiences to get there. From my armchair and older age, it looks to me like Fenati is one of the latter. Yes, he certainly needs a costly penalty, but it should be measured and allow for him to mature. Setting aside that he’s lost his seat for this and next year, a two race ban wouldn’t touch the sides of being meaningful. But that kind of takes us back to my first point and the inference that race direction do recognise that this type of behaviour is far from rare.

 

Total votes: 17

Moto2 gets a lot of extra coverage in & on mainstream media. Tv stations in Aus that only cover MotoGp results & mention Jack Miller when he does OK or wins i.e. very rarely, have had plenty of replays of "the incident" on Sunday.

There is no bad publicity it's all publicity !

Total votes: 9

Social Media Lynching is what this has become. Every swinging dick with no expertise in this arena has chimed in and the fellow is toast for doing something scores before him have done.

Total votes: 18

I was going to say something about Crutchlow's opinion, but you're right, it's a little overblown.

Total votes: 9

Excellent piece. One thing surprises me about the cameras, I imagined they all captured footage throughout the race, therefore the entire circuit covered for the entire race (what’s actually broadcast being just a small percentage of what’s recorded). Nowadays data storage is cheap and easy isn’t it?

Total votes: 7

Fenati has been kicked out. Totally justifibly in my view. Its interesting to note however that Rossi deliberately kicked Marquez off his bike in Sepang 2  1/2 years ago, which could have resulted in just as serious injuries that Manzi could have suffered, and all he got was a slap on the wrist! How does that work? 

Total votes: 31

You can't kick someone off a motorcycle, and unsurprisingly race direction found nobody had kicked anyone off a motorcycle. Please, go to another forum if you want to revive the Rossi / Marcquez argument of the utterly tired and irrelevant. Try Twitter.

Total votes: 18

For making this point. 

It's not a matter of if but when this sort of  comment would pop up... :) 

Total votes: 9

Valentino Rossi did not kick Marc Marquez. He forced him off track, which caused Marquez to crash, but he didn't kick anyone  His foot slipped off the peg as he got caught up with Marquez.

There aren't even many people inside Honda who believe Rossi kicked Marquez. 

Total votes: 17

I still think Valentino kicked Marc's brake lever in 2015 at, I think, Sepang causing Marc to crash. Valentine had the red mist that year with wild conspiracy theories. But very little, if anything, came of that. 

Total votes: 21

Gaffa tape his hands to the bars his feet to the pegs and a piece over his mouth just in case.

If he doesn't get a ban a skint team will pick him up on a free

Total votes: 5