While the 2021 season of FIM-sanctioned motorcycle racing was undoubtedly filled with excitement, there’s no denying that it had its fair share of untoward incidents, particularly in Moto3 and SSP300. These junior championship race series feature young riders—some as young as 15 years old—aboard machines tuned to very similar specifications. The result is extremely close-contact racing in grids with upwards of 30 racers.
The most unfortunate part of it all is that 2021 saw the tragic loss of three young talents. In May 2021, Moto3 rider, 19-year-old Jason Dupasquier suffered serious injuries following a crash in Mugello. The teenager unfortunately succumbed to his injuries. A couple of months later, in July, 14-year-old Hugo Milan died from injuries sustained in a crash at Aragon in a European Talent Cup race. The most recent tragedy would happen in September, when Dean Berta Vinales, cousin of MotoGP racer Maverick Vinales, lost his life in an SSP300 race in Jerez.
Dean Berta Vinales
The loss of young, promising talents sparked a lot of controversy, with racers expressing the need for improved safety restrictions, particularly for the junior racing series. As such, the FIM has stepped in and officially announced that it will be raising the age limits for the Talent Cups consisting of the European, British, Northern, and Asia Talent Cups. The same goes for pre-Moto3 series, with the minimum age now pegged at 13 years old, with a maximum of 30 racers on each grid. The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup has also been given the similar revisions, with the minimum age limit now raised to 14 years old.
Moving on to the Junior Championship Series, the Moto3’s age limit has been raised from 14 years old to 15 years old, with a maximum of 32 racers in each race. Meanwhile, The WorldSSP300 in the Superbike World Championship, will accept only riders aged 16 years and above, as opposed to the previous 15-year-old age limit. Similarly, a maximum of 32 riders will be allowed to race at each grid. The FIM notes, however, that for the 2022 season, riders who have already been accepted into the racing series, however, fall below the minimum age limit prior to the announcement of the revisions will be given exemption.
Apart from raising the age limit for the junior championship series, the FIM will also be mandating a number of safety enhancements from the 2022 season moving forward. For starters, all racers competing in Sprint Circuit Racing will be required to use airbag-integrated racing suits. Additionally, steps will be taken to improve rider communication while on track, specifically, immediately alerting surrounding riders of a crash that has occurred.
Several meetings have already taken place between FIM representatives, Dorna executives, gear and equipment manufacturers, and team principals. As such, we can expect information surrounding the new safety enhancements to be explained in greater detail very soon. In the midst of all the changes in store for the 2022 racing season onwards, the FIM emphasizes that rider safety is their number one priority.