When fans tuned in to the Moto2 race at the Misano Circuit in Italy, they were probably expecting an exciting race. What happened next not only shocked those viewers, but sent a wave of rage throughout the entire motorcycle racing community. Now, a motorcycle racer’s entire career has been shattered, and he could be facing jailtime, too.
The Racing Incident that Rocked MotoGP
It didn’t take long for the racing to heat up at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli on September 9. The Moto2 class—one of the support races for the MotoGP championship—had just started racing and two stand out racers were already battling. Stefano Manzi and Romano Fenati were trading paint at every other corner.
At first, this battle seemed like just another racing rivalry, but that changed as the racers exited Turn 6 at around 12:52 PM. While tearing down the straight at nearly 140 mph, Fenati reached over to his rival’s bike and pulled Manzi’s brake lever.
The Forward Racing Moto2 bike went into a headshake that Manzi was able to overcome, but the incident instantly angered stewards. Fenati was given the black flag and disqualified from the race. In addition, the Italian rider was suspended for two races. Fans and fellow racers were stunned.
Facing the Consequences
MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow was among the first to speak out against Fenati. The British racer stated that pulling Manzi’s brake lever at speed was unforgivable, and he criticized racing officials for not banning the Fenati from world competition. He also suggested that the Marinelli Snipers team should have kicked Fenati out of their garage as soon as he pulled in. Crutchlow’s words did not go unheeded.
Only a day after the race, Marinelli Snipers announced their immediate dismissal of Roman Fenati. In addition, MV Augusta Forward Racing—the team looking to sign Fenati for the 2019 season—announced that it would not pursue a contract with the rider. Fenati then apologized to fans for his brash actions before announcing his retirement from motorcycle racing. During his apology to fans, he also claimed that he was responding to Manzi’s dangerous riding, though he also said that was no excuse for his behavior. Others still thought his punishment was too light.
On Monday, September 10, a consumer-rights group in Italy formerly reported Fenati to Italian prosecutors. The organization asked the authorities to investigate the racer for attempted murder. The Federation Internactionale de Motocyclisme (FIM) has also summoned Fenati to its headquarters to explain himself. This could mean that a lifetime ban from motorcycle racing is still on the table.
Fenati has a history of acting out in MotoGP. In 2015, while riding in the Moto3 category, he notoriously kicked at Niklas Ajo during on track practice. Then in 2016, he was fired from Valentino Rossi’s Sky Racing VR46 team after clashing with members of his own crew. Now, it seems his immature behavior seems to have caught up with him.
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