World Supersport 300 rider Vinales – the 15-year-old cousin of MotoGP race winner Maverick Vinales – tragically died in a horrific incident during the World Superbike round in Jerez last weekend.
He is the third teenager at the world and European championship level to die in incidents in 2021, after Hugo Millan, 14, European Talent Cup driver in July and Jason Dupasquier in May.
This recent tragedy has sparked a debate on how the sport of motorcycle racing can prevent such events from happening in the future, with age limits, grid reductions and bike changes in the categories of. junior road race.
Dorna Sports – which owns MotoGP and WSBK – confirmed to Autosport earlier this week that a working group within the company has recently been set up to discuss the issues.
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The Ducati Miller rider – who knows one of the riders involved in the Vinales incident – says he is “fed up” with seeing moments of silence during race weekends and believes the junior classes must change in the future to stop these tragedies.
“We had this discussion in Moto3, but even there in Supersport , these bikes are not very fast and there are so many of them, and these bikes are not light by any stretch of the imagination, ”he said in response to a question from Autosport about the fatality situation. young pilots.
“Of course it’s a lot of weight and there is so much on the grid that when something goes wrong, unfortunately the chances of something bad happening are for sure doubled. or triplets.
“The race is fantastic and I think the classes are fantastic.
“I think it’s so good to have a refresher class like the World Supersport 300 to help these kids who may not have the chance in Moto3 to get by.
Jack Miller, Ducati team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“But there has to be a big step forward on safety, on the way these races are going and that cannot continue.
“This year has been particularly bad, but it cannot continue. We cannot have three young children in less than nine months and lose our lives.
“It’s excruciating and I think I’m representing everyone by saying I’m sick and tired of witnessing those minutes of silence for the children who were so, so young.
“It’s so bad, so for sure it can’t go on. It can’t, not at all.
Six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez believes Dorna does her best to ‘protect us’ in the event of a tragedy, while constantly working to improve safety.
But he thinks the biggest problem is the large number of junior categories these days, which only increases the risks.
“About Dorna, they are trying to protect us and they are trying to improve safety, on the circuits, on the leather suits and the helmets,” he said, when asked by Autosport if he thought the MotoGP offered enough support to the riders during times of tragedy.
“But the risk will always be there. It is true that, if we compare to 20 years ago, there are now double the categories, double the drivers on the track.
“I mean, when you say that we are working to find young talent, that means more categories, more drivers on the track, more risks.
“It’s something hard to deal with, hard to find a good compromise, but now one of the things is I will say this: we have a lot, a lot of categories. Every weekend we have races – GP, Superbikes, World Superbikes, European Championship.
“This means that there are of course more risks than in the past.”
A minute of silence to remember Jason Dupasquier
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro echoed Marquez’s concerns about the number of series where Moto4, Moto3 and Supersport 300 machines are racing.
While he believes that an increase in the age limit should be discussed, Espargaro also believes that younger riders should be forced to spend more time honing their skills on much safer minibikes on go-kart tracks.
“It’s not just 16 on the world championship, because 16 is not that bad,” he said.
“But yeah, we could do 17. But the problem is you can go to a big track like Barcelona with a Moto4, which is almost a Moto3, at 12 I think.
“So, for me, it’s worse. The school of minibikes on kart [tracks] that’s fine, so maybe they can stay longer in minibikes where the speed is much lower, where two riders can crash together and nothing happens, and they can delay by one or two years the arrival on a big track.
“So in the past the popularity of minibikes was very high, but now everyone wants to ride Moto4.
“We do a lot of classes, Supersport 300, everyone on the big tracks.
“It might be a solution too, to run more on the go-kart tracks because maybe there I think the kids can learn the same or maybe more.”
After the death of his cousin, Maverick Vinales opted out of the Grand Prix of the Americas this weekend – a move Aprilia fully supported.
Reigning world champion Joan Mir said Aprilia’s gesture was “appreciated” by the rest of the grid.
“Well I think when a tragedy like this happens I see everyone really feeling that kind of loss and it looks like when something like that happens we’re all together and that’s something. good thing because it can happen to any of us and it’s a really tough situation, ”said Mir.
“I fully understand that Maverick doesn’t feel good coming here and Aprilia’s decision is always very pleasant.
“I think runners like that kind of thing, and I hope it doesn’t happen again.