Romano Fenati sparked a worldwide media firestorm on Sunday at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli when he grabbed the front brake lever of fellow Moto2 competitor Stefano Manzi while racing at triple-digit speeds on one of the faster portions of the track.

Manzi’s Forward Racing Suter nosedived, the rider’s right boot slipped off the footpeg, and the entire bike wobbled. Team data reportedly indicated Manzi was traveling 140 mph at the time of the incident. Fenati was disqualified from the race for his actions.

The clash between the two Italian rivals actually began two laps earlier. The 19-year-old Manzi and the 22-year-old Fenati were battling midpack 15 laps into the 25-lap race when they collided in turn 14. Both riders ran off the track and into the adjacent gravel trap.

Neither Manzi nor Fenati crashed, and they were able to rejoin the race outside the points-paying positions. Fenati soon after attacked Manzi, who ran off the track and crashed, unhurt. Fenati pitted, returned to the track, and was subsequently black-flagged.

At the MotoGP post-race press conference, premier-class race winner Andrea Dovizioso said the penalty is “normal, but for sure something happened before. I think we have to see what happened—if Manzi did something bad. But in any case, you can’t do that.”

Runner-up Marc Márquez agreed with Dovizioso. “Race direction must decide,” he said. “They need to understand the situation. If he really did that movement, they need to put some penalty so the other guys will never do it.”

Third-place finisher Cal Crutchlow went further, calling for Fenati’s removal from the sport. “They are too diplomatic,” he said about Dovizioso and Márquez. “I think he should never race a motorcycle again. The team should have kicked him straight out of the garage.

“You can’t do this to another motorcycle racer. We are risking our lives enough, and if somebody grabs your brake… Sure, there was contact, but there is contact all the time. Fenati ran wide, Manzi tried to go under him, and they made some contact. This is racing.”

The FIM MotoGP stewards panel—Mike Webb, Bill Cumbow, and Patrick Coutant—later suspended Fenati for two races. For his role, Manzi was penalized six grid positions for the next round of the series at MotorLand Aragón.

On Monday, the Marinelli Snipers team fired Fenati for “unsportsmanlike, unspeakable, dangerous, and harmful behavior. The rider, from this moment, will not participate anymore [in] a race with the Marinelli Snipers team.”

Forward Racing team owner Giovanni Cuzari underlined racing is already dangerous, adding, “Fenati’s behavior is incompatible with the sporting values of Forward Racing and MV Agusta. For this reason, we are forced to cancel our [2019] project with Fenati.”

MV Agusta president Giovanni Castiglioni was likewise horrified by Fenati’s actions. “In all my years of watching sport, I have never seen behavior as dangerous as this,” he said. “A rider who can act like this can never represent the values of our company for our brand.”

Fenati responded with a press release. Translated from Italian, it read in part, “The criticisms are correct, and I understand the animosity toward me. I want to apologize to everyone who believed in me and all those who felt hurt by my action.” The final act came when the FMI (Italian Motorcycling Federation) announced it had withdrawn Fenati’s racing license, a prerequisite for international competition.

Fenati now says that he is quitting motorcycle racing and will go back to his job at the family hardware store. This puts a stop to the promising career of the young rider from Ascoli Piceno who, for his solid build, dark hair, and flaming temper, was nicknamed “Little Boar.”

Romano Fenati Racing Career

  • Fenati began racing minibikes in his early teens. In 2010, he made his debut in the Italian 125GP championship. He proved competitive and quickly moved up the ladder.

  • Fenati reached the Moto3 world championship in 2012 and confirmed his potential by finishing second at the season-opening race in Qatar and winning the Spanish GP at Jerez. He completed his first season sixth in the point standings.

  • In 2014, Fenati was hired by the Valentino Rossi-backed Sky Racing Team VR46 and finished third overall. Two years later, he clashed with team manager Uccio Salucci, Rossi's best friend, and lost his seat.

  • In 2017, Fenati had his best season to date, finishing second on a privately supported Honda. His potential was often obscured by his temper, both on the track and inside the team pit box.

  • Fenati moved up to Moto2 in 2018 with rather poor results. His winning potential was not forgotten, and in August MV Agusta announced Fenati would race the Triumph-powered MV Agusta-branded Forward Racing Moto2 entry in 2019.