One of the most-read and most-commented-upon stories we've run recently was one that showed a video of an on-track incident at Mugello two years ago. World Superbike rider Niccolo Canepa is accused of smacking the front brake lever of another rider at that track day, causing him to crash.
Canepa is scheduled to appear in court in Italy next month on assault charges related to the incident. The other rider, identified by Italian media as Davide Cappato, suffered a broken collarbone.
The backlash against Canepa has been harsh, to say the least (if you don't believe me, just read some of the more than 70 comments on our previous story), and if he's guilty, that's deserved.
In the interests of equal time, below is a translation of Canepa's explanation of what happened that day, which he posted on Facebook. He asked that it be copied and disseminated. Read it, watch the video if you haven't already, and make up your own mind.
I am here! I did not run away. I had to stay away from social media to avoid unjust attacks and to better prepare for the weekend of the Superbike World Championship in Malaysia. But now it's time to explain.
I will not and I cannot get into the actual court case, and I cannot go into all the details of the story because my lawyer will be furious and will probably be furious just the same for this. But I have read so many stupid things about the incident and I want to defend myself in front of everyone before I go before the Justice of the Peace.
First, I want to say I am sorry for the incident in which Cappato was involved that day. That is why I immediately went to the circuit medical center (from which he was later discharged) to learn about his condition. He was absolutely alert and conscious. We talked. HE apologized for certain conduct and "misunderstandings," WITHOUT ACCUSING ME OF ANYTHING and saying that these things can happen on the track. At that time he did not know I was a rider in the World Championship. We were only two motorcycle enthusiasts having fun on the track. He did not make his complaint until a few days later. Nevertheless, I still maintain that I did not cause him to fall. And now I'll explain.
I was teaching a rider who riding at Mugello on his 600 cc motorcycle for only the second time in his life. At that time, I held the track record for a Superbike at Mugello and I took the opportunity to teach him a few tricks about my favorite track.
Cappato, probably, did not understand my role in that situation and therefore must have thought it was abnormal (or even provocative) that I would sometimes slow down in some parts of the circuit (obviously, off the racing line, and without obstructing anyone, as I learned in the Course Instructors training from the Italian Motorcycle Federation). What I was doing was waiting for my "student" that I had just shown what was the right line through a curve or a braking point.
Several times before the incident, Cappato dangerously took incorrect lines and passed me more than once within a few centimeters on the main straight at a very high speed, risking contact. Mugello is no joke, especially on the straight. MORE THAN ONCE, passing Cappato between the curves, I SIGNALED HIM TO KEEP MORE DISTANCE because he was too dangerous and was risking my safety and that of my student, as can be seen on videos you have not been shown. I was without anger, without rancor and calm.
And then you get to the video. If you remove your bias, you will see what really happened:
Probably annoyed by my request, or perhaps not understanding the gesture of an instructor, Cappato did a wheelie out of the exit of the turn WHILE I WAS TURNED and off the line, WAITING FOR MY STUDENT, and landed a few feet from me. Then he came along side me, squeezing me to the the right while shaking his head, forcing me to SLOW DOWN and creating a dangerous situation for me and for the riders coming behind at high speed, even though he had a clear track ahead of him. Surprised by Cappato's unexpected and aggressive actions, I saw my student coming behind very quickly and I immediately made a gesture meant to say: STAY BACK, STAY AWAY. It was trying to create space quickly without creating a hazardous situation.
Anyone who confidently says that the video shows that I "pinched" the brake lever can only do so with malice. It can be seen that I DID NOT TOUCH THE LEVER, I TOUCHED CAPPATO'S ARM. Then, perhaps because he was startled, he grabbed the front brake with too much force and lost control of the motorcycle.
I'm really happy to see that many have understood the dynamics of this incident even before I explained and defended me, knowing the kind of person I am, despite allegations of those who do not have the ability to look clearly beyond their noses.
I'm sad to see people criticize me by saying I would be "guilty of wrongful death" for not stopping. Perhaps those who call themselves "riders" should know that there is absolutely NO STOPPING ON THE TRACK and it is even worse to go backwards. There are the course workers for that. Please, never do that!!
I am even more disappointed to see that some journalists (thankfully, only a few) have avoided asking me about the incident before slamming my name on their pages with a small part of the video of the incident. Some are journalists who remain anonymous and may not remember that I am one of the few riders who has never had one — NOT EVEN ONE — sanction or censure by the International Federation. I passed the examination as a certified instructor (as we have seen, something I carry out, not just a piece of paper), a role I'm very proud of. I do it because it is my passion for bikes, and not money, that makes me love being on the bike and teaching others. Also, in the past 10 years, since my first race of the World Cup, including a world title, a year of MotoGP, so many victories and even defeats, I HAVE NEVER BEEN INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT on track with other riders. Now I hope that the same journalists will spread my explanation with the same emphasis with which they published the piece of video.
There will still be criticism and contrary views, of course, but I will not allow MY REPUTATION FOR FAIRNESS AS A RIDER AND ESPECIALLY AS A MAN TO BE CHALLENGED. I will not accept biased attacks on my professionalism and my person (or my loved ones, because there have been vulgar insults to my girlfriend and my family). And as I have to appear before the court for my actions, so will any of those who cause offense to my person.
Now I can breathe a sigh of relief, in the hope that all those who accused and insulted me understand HOW THINGS REALLY HAPPENED. And I close with some advice that I've learned the hard way in these few weeks. Before you rush to judgment, it is best to be well informed on the facts and not be fooled by an unclear video or the statements of a few cowards who hide behind a keyboard with some false nickname, thinking they are omnipotent. There have even been people who pretended to be my relatives to discredit me, and who wrote that they were present at the scene and invented stories, or those who insinuated that I do not deserve to be where I am and am only here because I am paying to ride.
I'm just a guy chasing his dreams, and I do it in a clean and proper way.