After three high-profile racing fatalities this summer, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and Dorna (Spanish sports management/marketing company) are changing age limits for the roadracing series they collaborate on.
The most high-profile series that the FIM and Dorna cooperate on are MotoGP and World Superbike, but they also work together on feeder series that train racers for the big leagues, including MotoGP’s Moto2 and Moto3 series, as well as the European Talent Cup.
This past 2021 racing season, 14-year-old Hugo Millán was killed in a crash at the European Talent Cup’s Aragon Round. In Moto3, 19-year-old Jason Dupasquier died in a crash at the Italien GP in May, during qualifying. Then, in September, 15-year-old Dean Berta Viñales (cousin of MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales) died in a crash in WSB’s supporting 300 championship, at Jerez.
Racing deaths are always a high-profile tragedy, but the young age of all three racers made these incidents even more sad. There was a round of serious questioning by moto journos worldwide after the crashes, wondering aloud if there should be changes to roadracing to protect younger riders. Now, we’re seeing some of those rules put in place.
Riders currently participating in these series will see exceptions, but FIM and Dorna now say the minimum age for Moto2 and Moto3 participation is rising from 16 to 18, starting in 2023. The WorldSSP class (World Superbike’s 600 class) will see minimum age rise to 18. All these changes take place in 2023; even earlier, in 2022, the WorldSSP300 (World Superbike’s 300 class) will see minimum age go from 15 to 16 years old. Dorna and FIM are also raising the ages of other roadracing feeder series, and implementing maximum grid sizes. The theory is, fewer riders on-track will result in more safety, with less chance of being struck by another motorcyclist after a crash.
The FIM/Dorna press release also says the organizers are considering new rules requiring improved safety equipment as well:
A first meeting took place at the Aragon GP between all partners, including leather and helmet suppliers, technical staff and medical personnel, on the next step towards improving the level of protection afforded by rider equipment, with increased focus on protecting competitors against an impact from another rider or motorcycle, particularly the chest and neck.
Expect mandatory airbag suits at some level in the future, no doubt.
Another development mentioned in the press releases: Improved team-to-bike communication. With a better way of alerting riders of danger, there would be less chance of crashing into a mess-up ahead on-track.
A first meeting between all partners and technical suppliers has already taken place in order to discuss the installation and implementation of the required technology in rider equipment, on motorcycles and/or around each circuit, the aim of which is to implement automatic, near-instant warning systems for all following riders/motorcycles. The first tests will start as soon as the beginning of the 2022 season, and the system must and will be applicable to Championships of all levels, including Talent Cups.
All these are good ideas for younger riders, and no doubt we will see safety developments come out of these classes into MotoGP and World Superbike’s top ranks in the future. See more deets in the FIM/Dorna press release here.