Jerez WorldSBK Action Canceled On Saturday After Dean Berta Viñales Dies In WorldSSP300 Crash

The Saturday afternoon races in the WorldSBK championship have been canceled after a fatal accident in the WorldSSP300 class. Dean Berta Viñales, riding for the Viñales Racing Team, fell at Turn 2 on lap 10, in the middle of a group of riders, and was struck by another bike. The Spaniard suffered severe chest and head injuries, and died as a result of the injuries sustained.

The WorldSSP300 race was immediately red-flagged, and Viñales was treated at trackside, before being taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital, but his injuries were too severe to be survivable. Dean Berta Viñales is the cousin of Aprilia MotoGP rider Maverick, and rode in the team run by Maverick Viñales' father Angel. Dean Berta Viñales was 15 years and 4 months old.

All action was stopped for the remainder of the day. The World Superbike and World Supersport races were both canceled. Jeffrey Buis was declared the winner of the WorldSSP300 race, ahead of Iñigo Iglesias and Bahattin Sofuoglu.

Viñales is the second fatality on a World Championship race weekend this year, after Jason Dupasquier was killed during qualifying in the Moto3 class at Mugello. This year has also seen the death of Hugo Millán, who died during a European Talent Cup race at the FIM CEV championship round in Aragon in July. Millán was 14, Viñales 15, Dupasquier 19. All three teenagers died as a result of being struck by other bikes.

Below is the press release from the World Superbike organizers:

Dean Berta Viñales passes away

Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Following a serious incident during Race 1 of the Motul Spanish Round of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, it is with great sadness that we report the passing of rider Dean Berta Viñales (Viñales Racing Team).

Berta Viñales was involved in a multi-rider incident at Turn 1, with the race immediately Red Flagged.

The rider suffered severe head and thoracic injuries. Medical vehicles arrived at the site immediately and the rider was attended to on track, in the ambulance and at the circuit Medical Centre.

Despite the best efforts of the circuit medical staff, the Medical Centre has announced that Berta Viñales has sadly succumbed to his injuries.

The FIM, Dorna and the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto pass on our deepest condolences to Berta Viñales’ family, friends, team and loved ones.

Following the incident, the remainder of Saturday’s action has been cancelled.


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I am very sorry to hear about the death of this very young rider. condolences to his family and friends.

Chris M.

Maybe the small bike development classes are just too dangerous? The bikes are slow, the riders are very young, and the grids are huge. In order to be competitive, the riders must run in large groups to take advantage of eachothers draft. If anybody falls off in the pack they are racing with, the chances are high they get runover by another rider, as Vinales was today (and two others this season). Something surely should be done to spread out the field. Maybe loosening up equipment rules to allow the best builders an advantage? Maybe shrinking the grid to 25? Even in MotoAmerica, the front of the Junior Cup is becoming elbow to elbow 10 riders deep. It will only get closer as more riders gain experience. 

I'm inclined to side with those who think that making the bikes faster  -- thereby hopefully spreading out the talent more -- might be the solution to this problem. Cutting down the grid sizes is not a bad thought, either. As a race official here in Canada for many years, I've unfortunately been involved with several deaths, but none of them like those this year in Europe. I don't envy the racing officials who are trying to figure out a way to deal with this "epidemic".

Primarily: condolences to Dean's family, friends and team. Far, far too young.

Plenty of discussion elsewhere about what to do about the dangers of close racing and the age of riders in these classes. As noted, there are no easy answers and of course WSS300, Moto3 and even national classes with similar bikes are not entry level racing series. I don't think the teenagers need to learn much about racecraft at all but it is massively compromised by how close they all are for the whole race and the limits of the machinery being easy to reach. In terms of the technical solution to those things, I will leave any attempts at solutions to others. In and of itself, a big grid isn't a problem past the first couple of laps *if* the field gets spread out.

Maybe we need to ask more fundamental questions which will help figure out what should happen next:

-what do we want a motorcycle race to achieve? If 20 riders cross the line within 3 seconds at the end of it, did we actually learn who the fastest rider was? Or did we get an almost random result depending on a last lap frenzy and that was it?

-what are we (as an audience) getting out of such young riders racing these bikes? Is what we get out of watching people specifically of young age worth the sacrifices families have to make for their children to race?!? Why do we need 14 and 15 year olds on grand prix bikes instead of starting at 18, 19? There's no difference in ability to ride them, but why such a rush? (it should be concerning how media trained young teenagers are and how normalised to it we are)

-have we reached peak evolution of racing motorcycles [for the purposes of racing at the tracks there currently are in the world]? If the goal after such a terrible year for the small classes is to rethink to spread the racing out, how is that achieved in the face of engineering that can advance as quickly as you change the rules?

-as well as the three fatalities in such a short period of time there have been many near misses too...has anything been learned from those? Ton Kawakami at Misano was incredibly fortunate that no-one hit him falling from second place, but there have been plenty of others. The accidents of Jason, Hugo and now Dean have happened at modern, safe tracks - therefore they could have happened at any track. Rider protective equipment has taken massive strides. But here we are. Where do we go from here?

A difficult time. As a long time (50 years) racing enthusiast, riding since I was 17, and a parent with one child who rides, I agree there are no easy answers. I do know that the one time I watched Red Bull Rookies in person, I felt uncomfortable because of their young age. Condolences to friends, family and all affected by this. 

Blessings to Dean Vinales, family and caring community. Lost a very young friend this same way. As a motorcycle immersed bunch, we all know we are stealing transcendent beauty from the edges of the possible riding bikes. I am not changing a thing, except another replenishing of respect and appreciation. Once born, we live. And once massaging the pliable envelope of the impossible something more becomes real. Sportbikes on a track is an experience, like many transcendent impossible moments, that are bigger than fear, self doubt, existential dread, and mundane despair of knowing there should be more to experience. Had I been done in one of those dozen times I might have, it would be preferable to sullen restraint. 

Deepest heartfelt recognition of the loss of earthly future for this very young venturer. And, huge appreciation for delicious living he HAS had. Let's not regret untaken adventure ourselves, but bring fuller appreciation and presence to our doings. The level of safety in modern motorcycle racing is an impressive achievement. Losses don't particulate distinctly like nibbles in a bento box, they are one oceanic immersion. It can be both an overwhelming struggle, or a buoyant force. It is not something we can basically avoid. Perhaps we can sense the support of all that are no longer here with us?

Going to rip a nice wheelie in his honor. 

This kid was below the age-of-consent in most societies. But race organizers let them engage with adults (and other children) in dangerous activity like this with what...the signature of a parent or guardian? Racing at this level should be restricted to adults - at least that way when/if death or serious injury happens one can assume they fully understood what they were getting into. RIP Vinales.

People are great at rationalising things.

I don't really care what age the riders are in MotoGP. The records for youngest this that and the other are unimportant. Without the salad dressing of some archetypal imagery a large attraction of the sport is that it is dangerous, it's exciting. You make a package, you sell it. With the risks as they inevitably are, should we be selling kids ? I read somebody asking what difference would it make, it's only 3 years and 18 is still too young to die. The world is full of people who would give everything for just one more day...even if that day did not include some quasi spiritual blah blah.

Dean Viñales' passing is a memorable day for each one whose life his presence impacted. We will remember his passing in our own, unique way. I am this body comprised of atoms. A little over one-hundred years ago, Planck and Einstein postulated that light energy is absorbed and emitted in discrete amounts by atoms, which is how they maintain structure. Am I only the atoms, or may I also be the light energy? I am a conscious intelligence with a body comprised of atoms and light energy. Science currently has difficulty explaining consciousness. Is conscious intelligence at play in matter's absorbtion and emission of light energy?

I was deeply contemplating this the day Dean Viñales passed. A profoundly quiet stillness was present. The same stillness is present while reading some of the comments above. This is how I will remember him. In stillness. Thank you Dean Berta Viñales and everyone.