World Supersport 300 rider Vinales – 15-year-old cousin of MotoGP race winner Maverick Vinales – tragically died in a terrible incident during the Jerez World Superbike lap last weekend.
He is the third teenager at world and European championship level to die in incidents in 2021, after 14-year-old European Talent Cup rider Hugo Millan in July and Moto3 rider Jason Dupasquier in May.
This recent tragedy has sparked a debate about how motorcycle racing can prevent such events from happening in the future, with age limits, starting place reductions and bike changes being discussed in the junior road racing categories.
Dorna Sports – which owns MotoGP and WSBK – confirmed to Autosport earlier this week that a working group was recently set up within the company to discuss these matters.
INSIGHT: Motorcycle Racing’s Steps Towards a Safer Future After Its Recent Tragedy
Ducati rider Miller – who knows one of the riders involved in the Vinales incident – says he’s tired of moments of silence on race weekends and believes the junior classes will have to change in the future to accommodate them Stop tragedies.
“We had this discussion in Moto3, but even in supersport there ”These motorcycles are not very fast and there are so many of them and these motorcycles are far from easy,” he said in response to a question from Autosport about the situation regarding the deaths of young drivers.
“Of course it’s a lot of weight and there are so many on the grid that if unfortunately something goes wrong, the probability that something bad will happen is sure to double or triple.
“The race is fantastic and I think the classes are fantastic.
“I think it’s so good to have a feeder class like World Supersport 300 to help these young kids who may not have a chance to get through this way in Moto3.
Jack Miller, Ducati team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“But a big step has to be taken in terms of safety, the course of these races and it can’t go on like this.
“This year was particularly bad, but it cannot go on like this. We cannot have three young children lose their lives in less than nine months.
“It’s horrible and I think I’m on everyone’s behalf when I say that I will get sick and tired when I go to this minute of silence for children who were so, so young.
“It’s just that bad, so it certainly can’t go on like this. It can’t, definitely not. “
Six-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez believes Dorna is doing her best to protect us in tragic circumstances while at the same time constantly working to improve safety.
But the biggest problem, in his opinion, is the sheer number of junior categories these days, which only increases the risks.
“The Dorna are trying to protect us and they are trying to improve the safety on the tracks, the leather suits and the helmets,” he said when asked by Autosport whether MotoGP provided enough support to the riders during the times of tragedy .
“But the risk will always be there. It’s true that if we compare it to 20 years ago, there are now twice as many categories, twice as many drivers on the track.
“I mean, when you say we’re working to find talented youngsters, it means more categories, more drivers on the track, more risk.
“It’s difficult to find a good compromise, but I’ll say one thing now: we have many, many categories. Every weekend we have some races – GP, Superbikes, World Superbikes, European Championship.
“Of course that means more risk than in the past.”
A minute’s silence in memory of Jason Dupasquier
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Aprilias Aleix Espargaro reiterated Marquez’s concerns about the number of series Moto4, Moto3 and Supersport 300 machines are raced.
While he believes raising the age limit should be discussed, Espargaro also believes that young riders should be forced to keep improving their skills longer on much safer minibikes on karting tracks.
“It’s not just about 16 in the World Cup because 16 isn’t that bad,” he said.
“But yes, we could be 17. But the problem is that with a Moto4 that is almost Moto3, when you are 12 you can go to a big track like Barcelona.
“So that’s worse for me. The school of minibikes on the kart [tracks] is good so maybe they can spend more time in minibikes where the speed is much slower, where two riders can have an accident together and nothing happens, and they can postpone the arrival for a long distance for a year or two.
“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, all of them on the big tracks.
“Maybe this is also a solution to go karting more, because I think that the children can learn the same thing or maybe more there.”
After his cousin’s death, Maverick Vinales decided to suspend the Grand Prix of the Americas this weekend – a decision Aprilia fully supported.
Reigning World Champion Joan Mir says Aprilia’s gesture is “appreciated” by the rest of the grid.
“Well, I think when a tragedy like this happens, I see that everyone really feels this kind of loss and it looks like we’re all together when something like this happens, and that’s something beautiful because that can happen to each of us and it’s a really difficult situation, “said Mir.
“I fully understand Maverick is not comfortable coming here and Aprilia’s decision is always a very nice one.
“I think that the drivers appreciate something like this and I hope that it doesn’t happen again.”