Horrific Crashes Everyone Walked Away From
I still can’t believe my eyes, nearly a week later.
Last weekend’s MotoGP races in Austria’s Red Bull Ring saw two of the most brutal crashes in recent world motorcycle racing history, yet both miraculously saw no serious injuries.
The now infamous crash in the premier class began with a high speed collision between Petronas Yamaha rider Johann Zarco and Avintia Ducati’s Franco Morbidelli down the long stretch toward the circuit’s sharp right turn 3. At over 180 mph the riders tangled then tumbled out into the gravel and grass, while their bikes careened toward the right hander, even as other riders were negotiating the turn. As can be seen from the footage via MotoGP’s YouTube clips, both bikes rocketed back across the track at still well over 100 mph, trailing debris in their wake, narrowly missing Monster Energy Yamaha riders Maverick Vinales and 7-time world champion Valentino Rossi.
The horrifying crash that could have been so much worse. The Petronas Yamaha passed right between Vinales and Rossi, striking neither. Photos by MotoGP
Rossi, visibly shaken when he pitted during the ensuing red flag, later told reporters, “I was with Maverick when we entered turn 3 and I felt something coming towards me. I thought it was the shadow of the helicopter because sometimes it crosses the race track. But then Franco’s bike passed me at an incredible speed and also the bike of Zarco jumped over Maverick. We were very lucky, but we hope this type of incident is a lesson for riders to improve their behavior in the future.” Rossi was noting the increase in rider aggression on-track, something he’s observed lately in all the race classes. He pointed out, “You need to respect the other riders that are on track with you. We can’t forget this sport is very dangerous, especially in a track where you have long straights and you’re always going 300 kph.”
These up close and personal shots by MotoGP photographers reveal how close both riders came to horrific tragedy. A friend commented to me, “Looks like riding through Armageddon.”
The Avintia Ducati flew right over Vinales’ bike and body, and his instinctive reaction reveals how close both riders came to life changing or life ending tragedy. Photos by MotoGP
An Explosive Crash In Moto2
Earlier that day, Moto2 witnessed a shocking crash as well, again with no serious injuries, amazingly. Points leader Enea Bastianini highsided accelerating out of turn 1, getting tossed off his bike into the oncoming traffic. He deftly dodged and moved off the track, but his bike spun down the center of the tarmac, with most riders ducking left or right around it. But as Hafizh Syahrin straightened up from the turn and got hard on the gas, he hit Bastianini’s bike dead center. As seen in this MotoGP YouTube clip, both bikes quite literally exploded in flying debris, with Syahrin ejected through the air beyond the wreckage, yet still in the center of the pavement, bikes swerving to avoid his tumbling body. The shocking crash also took out Edgar Pons and Andi Farid Izdihar, who collided with scattered bike parts strewn across the track. Miraculously, all four escaped serious injury, as would those aforementioned four riders later in GP (Zarco, Morbidelli, Rossi and Vinales).
The horror of the explosive crash in Moto2 earlier that day, is equally hard to watch. So thankful all these riders, in both crashes, were found alive and well. Photos by MotoGP
As Rossi stated, this is a savagely dangerous sport. There are no steel roll cages, no safety harnesses holding pilots in place, no neck braces or fire retardant suits. Motorcycle racers, of any genre, are wrapping themselves around high-powered fuel breathing moto monsters, using their body strength to harness and propel these beasts that could kill them, with only the protection they are wearing. And amazingly, that protection, their training and instincts, and the track conditions, saved all these riders from destruction and death. This time. And I might point out, as Rossi inferred as well, some Divine intervention appears to have been in play, when he declared, “Tonight, we will pray!”
*Photos and footage by MotoGP