A 14-year-old rider has died. There’s a sport, whose news about it are too often full of rhetoric. Too many words have already been spoken, so our readers will excuse us for adding also ours. Last week was tragic: two riders died at TT and a very young one died at Barcelona. Maybe it’s time to forget the phrases we usually say in moments like this. We should rather admit that motorcycle racing is a dangerous sport, more than many others and less than many others. Remember that, at every level, nobody races without accepting the risk.
DANGER AND FEAR – We quote Michael Dunlop, who scored 18 wins at TT, the craziest and most dangerous race ever: «I don’t care of fear, because it’s always by your side. Yes, I had fear while I was riding, but I don’t focus on it. What really matters is to keep pushing». When did you scare yourself for the last time? «Not so much time ago, but enough not to remember it». It’s different from hearing the typical “He died while he was doing what he loved“. It’s easy: while you ride, there’s no room for fear.
PSYCHOANALYSIS – Sigmund Freud said it all in an essay published in 1920: “Beyond the pleasure principle“. The inventor of psychoanalysis said that the pleasure principle depends on tragic urses. We watch motorcycle racing because of its competitive side – representing life – and also because there’s something unavoidable, potentially lethal. Eros and Thanatos. It wasn’t invented by Freud, nor discovered by riders. It’s just like this. We cannot deny we like the risk. We love crowded grids, fast tracks, aggressive moves: if we were Ancient Romans, we would fill the Colosseum to watch chariots racing.
NO FATALITY – Risk makes something more fascinating. The CEV Moto3 race at Barcelona was contested by 45 riders and last year, in World Championship, they were 32. So many, yes, but it doesn’t mean anything: Eugene Laverty and Leon Camier risked to die in Superbike, where the field includes just 19 riders. There’s no fatality: the youngsters racing in Moto3 are supported by families, who let them risk. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be there. If we were all able to ride a motorcycle on the edge, races would make no sense. Furthermore: why should many families let their children racing, if they didn’t accept the risk? Fatality is just an excuse: since you go fast, it’s dangerous. Drom the moment you hit the track.
PRICE – We always talk about “safe tracks”, but then we glorify those “whose fascination is unequaled”, such as Mugello. Ask Michele Pirro what he thinks about it. Every year, we criticize TT – but then we glorify it as a symbol of courage – and we oppose to it modern circuits, theoretically the safest ones. What happened at Barcelona proves once again that death is part of racing. The way Andreas Pérez died reminds the one of Ivan Palazzese: the absurd, imponderable part of being a rider. The price you have to pay, for all the other people.