From the Blog

How do you solve a problem like Fenati?

Last weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix had everything, a thrilling, first-time win in Moto3, a runaway victory in Moto2 and a win in MotoGp that went a long way towards keeping the locals happy. But the media has ignored all that by and large because of an incident that happened in the Moto2 race. Italian hotheads, Romano Fenati (pictured) and Stefano Manzi turned the race into war on wheels and the simmering tensions between the two erupted into one of the most unedifying sights that I have seen on the track for many years. After tangling on a corner, getting back on track and heading off again, Fenati drew up alongside Manzi and reached out with his left hand and grabbed his opponent’s front brake lever. Manzi was lucky not to crash but the incident was captured by the trackside cameras and the ramifications of it have been echoing around the world ever since.

Regardless of whatever provocation may have led to it, there is no doubt that Fenati committed what amounts to vehicular attempted murder Race Direction jumped on it immediately and black flagged Fenati out of the race. The inquest afterwards led to him being banned for two races and being given a grid penalty for his first race back after serving the ban, neither of which punishment is adequate in my opinion given the seriousness of the offence.

However, worse was to follow. The next day the MV Agusta team for which Fenati had signed for the 2019 season announced that they had torn up his contract and that he didn’t have a job to go to next year. His current team acted immediately afterwards dismissing him from the team effective immediately. Fenati issued what was, to me anyway, a very mealy-mouthed “apology” which may have salved his conscience somewhat but impressed no-one and really only added to the “what planet is he on” questions that had already been circulating. Given that Fenati has been a serial offender in past seasons with kicking another rider’s bike in a fit of rage and becoming so obnoxious that the Sky VR46 team dismissed him as being an unworkable proposition when he was riding Moto3 for them, this latest incident, no matter how shocking, is really not a surprise.

Today, it got much, much worse. The FMI, the Italian Motorcycle Federation, cancelled Fenati’s racing licence and Fenati has been summoned to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIM, presumably so that he can “explain himself” but more likely so that more sanctions can be applied. It has even been suggested that criminal charges may yet be laid against him. This should not be a surprise to anyone who has had any passing knowledge of how the Italian justice system works. When Ayrton Senna was killed at Imola in 1994 his team owner, Frank Williams, was charged in connection with his death and it took many years before that case was settled.

Fenati has, apparently issued a new statement late this afternoon to the effect that he is giving up racing altogether. Given that he’d be lucky to get a team to HIRE him regardless of his obvious riding talent, this does seem like a case of shutting the stable door long after the horse has bolted.

Which is an awful pity because, just as Serena Williams’s disgusting behaviour cast a pall over the US Open in tennis, Fenati’s actions have detracted from what was a great Sunday. Incidentally, does it not seem grossly unfair to you that one little region of Italy should be blessed with two of the world’s best race tracks, Misano and Imola while we in Australia have to put up with the sub-standard installations on which our riders must ride (with the exclusion of The Bend, of course)?

The Moto3 race was hell on wheels as usual with a couple of fearsome multi-bike accidents (such is the nature of super close racing) and featured another unforced error from the points leader, Bezzecchi who added his tally of them to three so far this season. A maiden podium that was actually a win for the local hero, Lorenzo Dalla Porta and another Iron Man performance from Jorge Martin saw Martin leave the Rimini coast with the championship lead, albeit a narrow one.

The Moto2 race was another demolition job from Bagnia who has already justified his upgrading to MotoGp next year but the race will sadly be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

The MotoGp race looked like being another Ducati domination with Lorenzo and Dovizioso ruling the roost up front. Lorenzo fell behind Dovi early in the race and spent most of the race making his Ducati way too wide for Marquez to pass until Dovi had established an unbeatable lead. But then Lorenzo also fell victim to the unforced error and crashed out, leaving Marquez to pick up 2nd and leave Misano with 8 more points to add to his score, now leading the title chase by 67 piints. Perhaps Lorenzo’s fall wasn’t really unforced as it is far more likely that he cracked under the pressure that Marquez was applying. In any event, Marquez scored a very valuable psychological advantage over him ahead of the two being team mates next year as a result.

The other talk of the weekend was the dismal performance of the Yamahas, Rossi dropping even further behind Marquez and slipping to third in the points as a result. Today’s media is full of Rossi’s latest excuse that he can’t beat the Ducatis and the Hondas because they have a V4 engine and he doesn’t. Hey, Vale, you had a V4 engine for two YEARS and didn’t win on it so don’t give me that.

Six rounds to go and the next round is at Aragon, a circuit on which Marquez excels. Riders have been beaten when having such a big points lead but I am sure that Marc would rather be leading than chasing, it’s going to get very interesting.